BY BLAINE HARDEN
NEW YORK: VIKING, 2012
224 PAGES, ISBN: 978-0670023325, HARDBACK
This is a book that should be read by anyone interested in North Korea and in human rights issues. It joins Kang Chol-Hwan and Pierre Rigoulot’s The Aquariums of Pyongyang and Barbara Demick’s Nothing to Envy as among the most engaging and insightful accounts of life in that secretive country. Escape From Camp 14 is the story of Shin Dong-hyuk, the only known inmate in North Korea’s “total control” political prison camps to have escaped and made it to the West. The author, Blaine Harden, former Washington Post bureau chief in East Asia, based his account on interviews with Shin, other refugees, and North Korean experts. Harden presents a tale so incredible, strange, and harrowing that one needs to be reminded that it is, in fact, true. Most readers, even if they are aware of the brutal, repressive nature of the regime, are still likely to be shocked at what they learn from this book. Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of others have shared the unimaginably horrific life Shin experienced in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.