1-Shin Dong-Hyuk is the main character of the book Escape from Camp 14, his story is a tragedy, throughout his life he believed that everything happened because he deserved it. The North Korean State molds everyones thoughts to make it easier to control the people. There is virtually no freedom with the borders of North Korea. Shin lived a hard life in the camp, feeling pains that are not comprehendible. The way his story is told, it makes it hard to continue to read during some rather graphic times. 2-“Police could be bribed; indeed, many lived off bribes.
” (Harden, 125) Due to the North Korean famine in the 90’s everyone (excluding the “dear” leader and his family) would do just about anything to get food, or money. It is told that any Vagabond could safely travel within the country and have a chance of defecting to china with a little cash, food, and cigarettes. Within the country of North Korea there are laws that prohibit individuals from traveling between cities. Any North KoreanCitizen has to have proper paperwork, which included permission from the government.
3-“‘I am evolving from being an animal,” he said, “But it is going very, very slowly. Sometimes I try to cry and laugh like other people, just to see if it feels like anything. Yet tears don’t come. Laughter doesn’t come. ”’ (Harden, 181) Shin’s identity has almost been completely destroyed, his mind is in a state of survival. He has PTSD, which is common among people who have escaped concentration camps. Shin is told within the camps to snitch on the other people, he is told everyone is a just an animal.
The people in the camps are rewarded by snitching, they are beaten less, and receive a little more food. Whenever someone is executed, the other prisoners are told the individual deserved it, and so the people usually do not think anything of it. If someone’s family member commits a crime, it is said that their blood is tainted and so everyone in their family has to work harder because of it. 4-“Escape. ” “Shin was astonished to hear the word. His brother had said it. ” (Harden, 53) “…
Shin’s camp-bred instincts took over: he had to tell a guard. ” (Harden, 53) Escape from Camp 14 Shin is so worried about his well being when he hears this information about his brother because Shin would be implicated and even if he was not he would still be beat and tortured potentially even executed. He decides to tell a guard about his Mother and Brother’s plan to escape. The guard takes credit for discovering the plan and so Shin is sent to the underground prison and tortured because of it.
Whenever he is released from the underground prison he has to witness his Mom being hanged and his brother being shot. Because of the way people are raised in the camp, Shin did not feel guilty until many years later once he knew what families were like in the western world. He felt that they had deserved the death. 5-“He had no hope to lose, no past to mourn, no pride to defend. He did not find it degrading to lick soup off the floor. He was not ashamed to beg a guard for forgiveness. It didn’t trouble his conscience to betray a friend for food.
” (Harden, 75) Shin was born in the camp, he never knew what was on the outside of the camp, he didn’t even know what was going on within his own country. He never knew that there were good things in life that he was missing. Like it says, he had no hope to lose because he had nothing to hope for. His mind was only concerned about survival, licking soup off of the floor didn’t bother him. Could you even imagine living like that? 6-“Intoxicated by what he heard from the prisoner he was supposed to betray, Shin made perhaps the first free decision of his life. He chose not to snitch.
” (Harden, 101) A new prisoner that had come from China and had traveled much of the globe began to tell Shin about what he was missing on the outside. Many things the new prisoner said bored Shin, but when it came to food, Shin wanted to know more and more. They discussed food as often as possible and the thought of abundances of food gave Shin his reason to escape the cage he lived in. 7-“He suddenly understood where he was and what he was missing. Camp 14 was no longer home. It was an abhorrent cage. ” (Harden, 108) The new prisoner’s name was Park, he enlightened Shin as to what he was missing.
Shin thought of camp 14 as a home and that he was there because he deserved it, but after finding out about all the good things in the world and the corruption in his country, Shin believed his home was a living hell, but Shin didn’t know what a hell was, he had never heard the word love until after he had escaped and made it in to South Korea. Escape from Camp 14 8-“After Shin was assigned to the garment factory, where opportunities to find or steal extra food were particularly meager, his father had gone to the extraordinary trouble of obtaining the rice flour and sending it to his son as a paternal offering.
Shin was repulsed by his father’s gift and, although hungry, gave it away. ” (Harden, 114) One of the only relationships Shin has within the camp is with his father. He has grown to hate his father because he blames him for having been his son, and that is why he is in the awful camp. Shin thought that his father was selfish in letting in mother and brother escape, because that meant death and torture for Shin. 9-“The unforgivable crime Shin’s father had committed was being the brother of two young men who had fled south during the fratricidal war..
Shin’s unforgivable crime was being his father’s son. ” (Harden, 57) The North Korean officials say that once someone in the family has committed an “unforgivable” crime that everyone in the family is a traitor of the government and that they must work in labor camps (until they die) to wash away the sins of their kin. As you can see this method of thinking is rather archaic, it is really a way for the government to control people in fenced in camps, and control they way they think. It is also their method of “excusing” slave labor.
10-“Before Shin could get to his feet, Park had stopped moving… Without hesitation, Shin crawled over his friend’s body, using it as a kind of insulating pad. ” (Harden, 117) Park reached the electric fence first because Shin had slipped on the ice, this is a rather fortunate stroke of luck for Shin. What they didn’t know is that they needed a tool to ground the current into the ground, and Park acted as that tool. Shin still in his state of mind for survival only, crawled over his friends body and left the camp.
11-“No longer instantly recognizable as a runaway prisoner, he had become just another ill-clothed, ill-shod, and ill-nourished North Korean. ” (Harden, 121) Escape from Camp 14 This is a good thing for Shin that everyone in North Korea is poor and they are all starving in appearance. He quickly begins to tag along with other drifters and Vagabonds. 12-“As a police state, North Korea does not tolerate intercity vagabonds. Laws strictly prohibit citizens from traveling between cities without proper authorization… But in the aftermath of the famine… Police could be bribed; indeed many lived off bribes.
” (Harden, 125) Once again due to the famine of the 90’s government officials like the police are illnourished and have to live off of bribes from the North Korean people. The North Korean citizens could barely afford the bribes needed, in-fact lots of the items used for bribes, were actually stolen. 13-“‘I’m dying of hunger here,’ said the last soldier Shin bribed on his way out of North Korea… Shin gave him bean curd sausage, cigarettes, and a bag of candy… The guard led Shin through a forest to a river, where he said the crossing would be safe.
” (Harden, 145) This young guard, also being the last one Shin encountered, was starving and was easily bribed. They even had a long conversation about people crossing over into China where the young guard said that if the person had any thing for a bribe that he would turn his head the other way. 14-“Once they were inside, the journalist told Shin to relax. But Shin did not understand that he was safe. He could not understand that he was under the protection of the South Korean government. Diplomatic Immunity did not make sense to him.
” (Harden, 160) Shin had been in China for several months now, and he had worked for many farmers as cheap labor, but he didn’t mind because he got about 60 U. S cents an hour, and was always clothed and fed. He had heard that there were South Korean churches in China that might help him get to Seoul, he was turned away every time he asked for help, and no one offered him a job, but one time when he was asking for work and explaining that he was a North Korean, a reporter over heard him say this, and he decided to take him into the South Korea embassy to grant Shin asylum.
Shin was scared because he had done his best to avoid the Chinese police and some stranger was driving him through a large group of Chinese police to get him into the embassy. Shin barely understood what Escape from Camp 14 was going on. Within the embassy he was interviewed by an American NIS agent, he was extremely dumb founded, because he had never seen or spoken to a Caucasian. 15-“‘The things I went through were mine alone,’ he replied, not looking me in the eye. I believe most people will find it nearly impossible to know what I’m talking about. ’” (Harden, 179)
Shin has still not grasped what happened to himself, and he did not think anyone else could understand. 16-“They (concentration camp survivors) often move through life with what Harvard Psychiatrist Judith Lewis Herman calls a ‘contaminated identity. ’” (Harden, 181) The psychiatrist words in this way because the things they order the prisoners to do, has completely changed the person, there is noting left of their persona. They actually do not want the person to be an individual, they want everyone to be the same, and work equally hard. 17-“In that speech, if not yet in his life, Shin had seized control of his past. ” (Harden, 193)
It had taken years for Shin to grasp and understand everything that had happened to him within the camp. 18-“‘Those who dare hurt the dignity of the supreme leader of [North Korea] will not be safe no matter where they are and they will not be able to escape merciless punishment. ’” (Harden, 197) This was a statement released by the North Korean government warning all defectors who speak bad about the state of North Korea will be found no matter where they are in the world. Actually, the government has sent assassins into South Korea with the assignment to kill any and all defectors who are speaking bad about the country of North Korea.
19-“In response to questions about his safety, Shin was unfazed. He was not afraid. He said he would never stop talking about what happened to him inside camp-14 until the North Korean Gulag was shut down and all of its prisoners were set free. ” (Harden, 197) Escape from Camp 14 And to think, at one point in Shin’s life he considered this “gulag” to be his home. Shin said that it is hard for him to be happy even outside of the camp, because he knows that people are still in these camps and that no one is there to help them. 20-“Uniforms are everywhere in North Korea, the world’s most militarized society.
Conscription is almost universal. Men serve ten years, women seven. ” (Harden, 118) The required military duty doesn’t apply to the people in the camps, one might think that working in the military would be a good thing and that you would get food, but they are actually just as ill-nourished as the rest of the population of North Korea. 21-Harrowing and heartbreaking Ten Laws of Camp 14, most of which end with “you will be shot immediately. ” The most heart breaking thing about this, is the obvious lack of respect for human existence. There is absolutely no tolerance and if any rule is broken it results in death, no matter what you did.
The guards and other prisoners are forced to treat each other likes animals, and as a result, they live in a virtually merciless society. Rhetorical Precis In Blaine Harden’s non-fiction writing, Escape from Camp 14, Harden observes the behavior and obtains the knowledge of everything Shin tells him about the concentration camp in North Korea. He illustrates this by using appropriate imagery and description. Harden’s purpose is to spread the word about the horrific events that are occurring in North Korea everyday. He writes with informative tone to have an unbiased rhetoric, he lets the words and facts speak for themselves.
Courtney from Study Moose
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