Escape from Camp 14 Book Review

Escape from Camp 14 Book Review


Escapefrom Camp 14: Book Review


OnJanuary 2015 Shin Donghyuk retracted some of the information asexplicated in the book Escape from Camp 14. Such a statement hasdealt a big blow o the authenticity of his story. While it is evidentthat UN had adopted some of Shin’s testimony to convince the worldand the Security Council to take a resolute action against Kim JongUn regime, it remain to be seen how this new revelation will behandled in the face of growing aggressive tendencies by the DPRKgovernment (Sengupta,2014).

InEscape from Camp 14 Shin succinctly indicates that his mother andbrother were executed in Camp, but it now appears that he might giventhe wrong information bearing in mind evidence point the executiontook place in camp 18 (Anthony, 2012). Shin also state that he wastortured and burned in the prison camp when he was only 13 yearswhile in actual sense he was aged 20 at that particular time. It isapparent that such substantial facts will ultimately alter the storynarrated by Shin but it is also unmistakable that such changes willnot significantly change the story.

Basedon the United Nations Convection against inhuman treatment andpunishment, torture is defined as any act through which severesuffering and pain is meted out on a person for such purposes asgenerate confession, punishment, coercion or intimidation (Sengupta,2014).

Theprecise details of the inconsistencies that Shin has acknowledged cannot be used to wish away the fact that Kim regime is subjecting itscitizenry to torture and suffering. Shin’s story is not pegged on100 percent accuracy of the time and place where torture and otherheinous activities took place. A succinct analysis of the import andpurpose of Shin’s testimony is the first step towards underscoringthe fact that it validity and strength is not hinged on accuracy oftime and the manner in which events took place but on the fundamentalconcept of whether the said events actually took place in NorthKorea. In this light let us insect the validity of the informationgiven by Shin in the book vis a vis the information that has beenrendered redundant due to inaccuracy (falsehood).

Shin’sevidence was essential because it is a personal account of how ayoung man escaped from the most severe prison camp, where togetherwith his parents had been held as political detainee. From theemerging evidence it eminent that the camp where Shin was held was atotal control zone. It has been revealed that the camp was not “Camp14” and for all intent and purpose was a trifle. The camp whereShin was held may well have been a two star on the terror scale whileCamp 14 could be a three star. Even so it is all too clear that theany prisoner camp is DPRK is atrocious (Anthony, 2012).

Itis important that the public is not diverted from stanch action tocall accountability by the DPRK government due to the minorretractions of Shin who is a highly traumatized individual and who isjust one of the many sad victims of the dictatorial administration inPyongyang.

Shintestimony may have inconsistencies and may contain some informationthat is not accurate as per the requirements of law, but leadjudicial figures have stated that the information he gave ininvaluable n holding the Pyongyang administration into account (BBC,2015).Shin was born in a camp in 1982 and it would be to asking too much toexpect him to give accurate and precise details of the aspects suchas location, time, and names of camps where he was held captive. Itis important to note that prior to his escape from the camp Shin hadno idea what life looked like in North Korea (Anthony, 2012). Timeand again scholars have stated that human justice is fallible yet itis still essential. In this respect trained decision makers haveskills on how to weigh and look for all evidence with a degree ofprudence. Where there is an assertion of occurrence of heinouscriminal activities it is paramount that a very strong evidence toback that they are established.

Itis also important to note that camps in DPRK are only visible throughsatellites since North Korea has closely guarded border to outsiders,specifically the detentions camps and hence event taking place in thecamps can only be known through prisoners have managed to escape andfled the state (Kirby, 2015). In all cases their narratives (asexpected) are subjective to the personal experiences and sometimesits conflicts with supporting arguments being projected about theexact experiences in the camps. Nonetheless, the strength of Shin’saccount is pegged on the fact that even though he might retractedsome information based on the request from his father, the storystill merits being told and concurs (to a large degree) with that ofother prisoners who have escaped (Battles,2014).For example, Shin’s story is remarkably similar to those given byother fugitives. The reason for imprisonment as indicated by Shinalso matches those documented by other surveys that some people aredetained for political reasons, guilt-by-association (Shin) andunknown reasons. In this light, Shin’s testimony remains verypowerful in explicating the atrocities Kim Jong un administration isperpetuating with impunity.


Anthony,A. (2012). Escape From Camp 14 by Blaine Harden – review. TheGuardian.Retrieved from:

Battles,A. (2014). ExplainingDepravity through the Looking Glass: Political Prison Camps, NorthKorea, and Waltz`s Three Images.GeorgiaSouthern University.Retrieved from:

BBCNews. (2015). NorthKorea camp survivor Shin Dong-hyuk changes story.Retrieved February 16, 2015, from

Kirby,M. (2015). Is western media an unwitting ally of North Korea`spropaganda. TheGuardian.Retrieved from:

Sengupta,S. (2014). UnitedNations Security Council Examines North Korea`s Human Rights.Retrieved February 2, 2015, from The New York Times: