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

Published: 2013-03-26
Paperback : 256 pages
4 members reading this now
9 clubs reading this now
3 members have read this book
With a New Foreword

The heartwrenching New York Times bestseller about the only known person born inside a North Korean prison camp to have escaped. Blaine Harden's latest book, King of Spies, will be available from Viking in Fall 2017.

North Korea’s political prison camps have existed ...

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Introduction

With a New Foreword

The heartwrenching New York Times bestseller about the only known person born inside a North Korean prison camp to have escaped. Blaine Harden's latest book, King of Spies, will be available from Viking in Fall 2017.

North Korea’s political prison camps have existed twice as long as Stalin’s Soviet gulags and twelve times as long as the Nazi concentration camps. No one born and raised in these camps is known to have escaped. No one, that is, except Shin Dong-hyuk.

In Escape From Camp 14, Blaine Harden unlocks the secrets of the world’s most repressive totalitarian state through the story of Shin’s shocking imprisonment and his astounding getaway. Shin knew nothing of civilized existence—he saw his mother as a competitor for food, guards raised him to be a snitch, and he witnessed the execution of his mother and brother.

The late “Dear Leader” Kim Jong Il was recognized throughout the world, but his country remains sealed as his third son and chosen heir, Kim Jong Eun, consolidates power. Few foreigners are allowed in, and few North Koreans are able to leave. North Korea is hungry, bankrupt, and armed with nuclear weapons. It is also a human rights catastrophe. Between 150,000 and 200,000 people work as slaves in its political prison camps. These camps are clearly visible in satellite photographs, yet North Korea’s government denies they exist.

Harden’s harrowing narrative exposes this hidden dystopia, focusing on an extraordinary young man who came of age inside the highest security prison in the highest security state. Escape from Camp 14 offers an unequalled inside account of one of the world’s darkest nations. It is a tale of endurance and courage, survival and hope.

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Discussion Questions

Suggested by Members

Why was it so hard for Shin and others who escape from North Korea to adjust to life as a free person?
How can people be so inhumane to others and when can being inhumane be justified to survive?
Are there are places in the world with prison camps and/or how others who escape from their countries trying to get to a better place and life treats and mistreated along the way and once they get to where they end up?
by mrblock (see profile) 05/17/16

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Book Club Recommendations

Learn more about North Korea
by mrblock (see profile) 05/17/16
Be sure to do a little extra research and learn about the fact that Shin has recanted parts of his story and/or changed some of the facts he presented. You will learn the reason he gave the first version of his story and then why he recanted parts. His recanting does not significantly alter his story, the camps still exist and the severe conditions he describes have been confirmed by others who have also escaped. Check out the satellite views of North Korean prison camps on Google maps. Find other magazine articles of others who have escaped North Korea, not just from a camp, but to escape the life in North Korea. Most people are not aware of what is happening in this country. Compare his life in prison camp with the victims of the Holocaust camps. Also try to understand how he and the others are all brain washed into accepting life as it is in the camps and the country.

Member Reviews

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  "Escape from Camp 14"by mrblock (see profile) 05/17/16

This is the story of a man born in a North Korean political prison Camp (14). He is the only known political prisoner, born in a political prisoners camp, to have escaped a death camp and to have survived.... (read more)

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