Owen's Reviews > Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West

Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden
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's review
Sep 11, 2012

it was amazing
Read from September 11 to 12, 2012

I should admit up front that I have a fairly insatiable case of North Korea-philia. I find it so fascinating to experience their reality through books or stories of their existence, and this book is perhaps the most satisfying in that regard. Harden tells Shin's story of being born into North Korea's famously "non-existant" labour camps, escaping, and (sort of) finding a life on the outside. This is not a feel-good story in any way; his life post-defection is not ideal, and the book delves fairly deeply into the psychological problems of North Korean defectors--something I had not considered in depth. Another aspect of the novel I found engrossing is the picture it gave of the changes occurring inside the country. Renegade capitalism is taking hold, and more and more North Koreans are consuming outside media like radio and television.

Perhaps the most intriguing part of this book is that because Shin was born and bred in a labour camp, he was not subject to the State's propaganda. His existence was comprised of the labour camp and nothing else for the first 20+ years of his life. I find this stupefying and intensely interesting at the same time.

Fantastic read. Highly recommended.
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Reading Progress

09/11/2012 page 123
60.0% "This book is capital-A awesome. Awesome."

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