Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West, Blaine Harden


I always interested to read anything which relates to North Korea. Probably it's my curiosity which leads to this uncommon interest. I've read a few stories from tourists or journalists but not from a North Korean. This book tells the story of a North Korean's life experience in Camp 14 and his successful escape from the country.

Camp 14 resides the criminals' blood-related family, usually up to three generations. Everyone needs to work hard and stays loyal in order to "cleanse" their sins. Food is scarce throughout the country and family bonding rarely exists in the camp. Everyone is competitive to fill their hunger and anyone can be a snitch to get better treatment and extra food from the prison guards.

When I was reading the sad life of North Koreans, I was thinking what I will do if I need to experience such hell life and I answered to myself "I think probably I will commit suicide". Unfortunately, the next few paragraphs mentioned that the punishment will be more severe for surviving relatives. Oh dear! This is really one hell! This reminds me of a famous Chinese saying "Can't request to survive, neither can request to die".

Before reading this story, I didn't know that South Korea invests a lot of money and effort to help North Korean defectors. I was surprised and touched that there's a resettlement center in South Korea which houses the defectors. The center provides them with special care and practical training so that they can adapt to the real world. It feels so good to read when South Korea offers tremendous protections to them. Human life seems "cheap" in North Korea and they are like broken toys made by their leader.

Surprisingly easy to read. I thought it will be a difficult book to read since the author is a journalist. I wish there are more books similar to this which tells stories about defectors, before and after fleeing from the country. Most important, it's from their personal experience.

Rating: ★★★★★
More reviews can be found on Goodreads: Escape from Camp 14.

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