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How one man escaped from a North Korean prison camp

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Lumination

'enry 'ollins
That's so tragic. It is appalling that people can be driven to treat other people like that in this day and age.

For the record, this is an excerpt from the full book. I'm thinking of picking it up now, since it's less than $16 hardcover. Anyone else?
 

iammeiam

Member
That's so tragic. It is appalling that people can be driven to treat other people like that in this day and age.

For the record, this is an excerpt from the full book. I'm thinking of picking it up now, since it's less than $16 hardcover. Anyone else?


Preordered the Kindle edition for $13. The personal stories about the situation there are uniformly fascinating, in a depressing way, and this one appears to have a unique perspective so it should be worth it.
 

Amagon

Member
Just fucking wow is all I gotta say after reading the excerpt. I'm gonna have to get the book now but goddamn, that shit is horrible reading what goes in those labor camps and its still happening today.

:/
 
Why haven't we invaded this country yet like the U.S. did to Iraq?

Its not that easy. Several problems:
- North Korea, despite being fucking awful, is a sovereign country. It is illegal for the US to just rock up and take over.
- North Korea is, as you are probably aware, very heavily armed. Any attack on the DPRK would cause the whole region (SK, Japan, Taiwan, China, Russia) to become involved. It would be lose-lose for everyone.
- The DPRK is an ally of China. An attack on it will likely be seen as either an attack on China itself, or a way of US military getting even closer to China by taking control of a bordering country. Either way China isn't going to take to kindly to any US action.
- Reunification of the Koreas would be terrible for South Korea's economy. Plus because no one wants to live in the northern half there would be a huge influx into the south.

The country is beginning to open up to the US again (after Bush fucked up relations), so its highly possible that the North will be transformed into a better country. If not, the country will be unable to sustain itself on its own for much longer anyway. Its not ideal, but playing the diplomatic/ waiting game involves the least casualties and produces the best outcomes overall.
 
Fuck anyone that believes N.korea has a right to nuclear arms. This shit is disgusting.

Of course. I think its pretty disgusting that the US has them too though, and is allowed to dictate who can and can't have them. No one should be entitled to have the power to blow up the world, no matter how big the economy, how strong the army or how noble the cause.
 

Zebra

Member
Holy. Fuck.
It's almost unbelievable that he managed to even pull out the desire, much less guts, to escape from that situation. And survive.

Park's spirit, his dignity and his incendiary information gave Shin a way to dream about the future. He suddenly understood where he was and what he was missing. Camp 14 was no longer home; it was a cage.

It's truly amazing what power mere ideas can have. Just the passing of information between lips can alter someone's life so completely.
I assume that had Shin not met this more traveled spirit, who passed on these "dangerous" thoughts of the outside world to him, he likely would have continued on with his life in that shithole until he died like most people there.
 

sankao

Member
We can't just go to war with north Korea to save those people: they would be used as cannon fodder and suffer the most.
 

delirium

Member
Of course. I think its pretty disgusting that the US has them too though, and is allowed to dictate who can and can't have them. No one should be entitled to have the power to blow up the world, no matter how big the economy, how strong the army or how noble the cause.
The US government is infinitely more reliable, legitimate, and trustworthy compared to the shit that is the North Korean government.

I would rather put my life (and that of my family) in the hands of the American government a million times over than the North Korean's.

Why the fuck have I never heard of these camps before!?
Information about them has been out there for a while. People should be pissed off about them.

http://freekorea.us/camps/

Go read about them using mentally challenged children to test chemical and biological agents and other horror stories.
 
The US government is infinitely more reliable, legitimate, and trustworthy compared to the shit that is the North Korean government.

I would rather put my life (and that of my family) in the hands of the American government a million times over than the North Korean's.

Well, yes of course. I completely agree. I still don't trust the US with nuclear weapons. People are stupid and greedy, no one should have that kind of power.

However, as a side note, if you look at US foreign policy from a North Korean standpoint they have been incredibly unreliable and gone from using diplomatic means to open the DPRK up (they provided them with power and supplies to prevent them from turning to nuclear power), to failing to deliver said supplies, to abruptly cutting all communication and declaring them evil. Little wonder they don't trust the US government.
 

delirium

Member
Well, yes of course. I still don't trust the US with nuclear weapons.
Actually, out of every country in the world, I'd rather trust in the US. Having a gigantic military that doesn't need to use nuclear weapons makes the US much less likely to use one rather than say China.

We can't just go to war with north Korea to save those people: they would be used as cannon fodder and suffer the most.
If only the North Korean where that stupid to do that. More likely you would see Nazi style mass execution to cover up the crimes against humanity.
 
Actually, out of every country in the world, I'd rather trust in the US. Having a gigantic military that doesn't need to use nuclear weapons makes the US much less likely to use one rather than say China.

The US has made some very silly diplomatic and military moves, and most of them were based on jingoistic reasoning (such as "spreading democracy (US values)", and for their own economic benefit). They show a great disregard for other nations' sovereignty, and are putting themselves in a great deal of debt in order to keep their fingers in everyone's pies. They have handed the North Korea situation very, very poorly. There are a lot of nations out there that are more trustworthy than the US, just take a look.

I don't even understand why you are arguing with me. My point isn't who is most entitled to weapons, but that no one is.
 
That was incredibly intense...my heart goes out to this guy and many of those in North Korea who are caught in the crushing oppression. Its utterly disgusting and pathetic as only humans can be. Fucking pathetic
 

zoukka

Member
Actually, out of every country in the world, I'd rather trust in the US. Having a gigantic military that doesn't need to use nuclear weapons makes the US much less likely to use one rather than say China.

My trust gets lowered a little by the fact that the US has already nuked cities off the face of this world.
 
He snitched on his bro and mom.. If I was living in such a shithole, i would rather choose death than telling on my own family.

Its also just disgusting how little mainstream media coverage there is for this. All those people are suffering and NOBODY CAN DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT

That is brave of you then.
I fear that I personally would succumb under the threat of torture and death, or at the chance of living better, and I think this is the case for most people - which is why it's a behavior that's encouraged in pretty much all fascist states (See the youth nazis).

My trust gets lowered a little by the fact that the US has already nuked cities off the face of this world.

Yep, using nukes (twice!) isn't my idea of a nuke reluctant country. Especially when the reason they used the nukes was pretty much just as a deterrent.
 

Korey

Member
He snitched on his bro and mom.. If I was living in such a shithole, i would rather choose death than telling on my own family.

Its also just disgusting how little mainstream media coverage there is for this. All those people are suffering and NOBODY CAN DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT

You can't judge him because you can't even begin to relate to his life...at all.

a) It wasn't much of a family. He was abused by his mom and barely knew his brother. His concept of a family and yours are completely different.

b) They are brainwashed, indoctrinated, and intimidated to snitch. It's how he was brought up. They don't know what free will is. If you read the excerpt there's a part where it emphasizes the first time he clearly made a free decision on his own. Snitching is second nature to the prisoners. They don't know anything else.

c) His mental state must be fucking fragile and unstable as hell to be raised and living in that oppressive environment. That's all he's ever known. He doesn't know differently.
 

fanboi

Banned
My trust gets lowered a little by the fact that the US has already nuked cities off the face of this world.

Was the nukes good or bad?

I belive its a 50/50 stance on this since it saved alot of lives since no main invasion needed to be done... but of course the aftermath was shit with cancer and all...
 
Was the nukes good or bad?

I belive its a 50/50 stance on this since it saved alot of lives since no main invasion needed to be done... but of course the aftermath was shit with cancer and all...

hm... I'm of the opinion that Japan was preparing to surrender anyway (they were in a pretty bad place, especially after the first bomb, and the emperor and the government had been considering surrender for a couple of years - it was only the military who wanted to keep fighting) and the US went and nuked them mostly as a power display for Russia. I'm reading a book about it at the moment actually, I wish I was further in so that I could say more.


EDIT: Me too Kod1ak :( Thinking about them having to save up smuggled grains of rice when I leave the few that get stuck to the bowl, it really makes you reconsider what's important. Damn I want to show him all the amazing food out there.
 

Swig_

Member
I want to buy this guy a steak. The part about him planning an escape and risking his life just to eat some real food that I could run down to the grocery store and buy in a few minutes is just striking to me. I've been interested in North Korea for a while, but every time I read something like this, I'm just stunned that people live like that.
 

Go_Ly_Dow

Member
Wow, just wow.

One of the most eye opening personal accounts I have ever read. My heart was racing reading through it.

It's available on Amazon:

US



UK

 

bbyybb

CGI bullshit is the death knell of cinema
I am picking up the book after reading that excerpt. Amazing that he has managed to get where has after all that he has been through.
 

Ikael

Member
I already said it before, but once North Korea's regime falls and we get the whole picture of these type of camps, this is going to be remembered as the XXIth's century holocaust, and I am not exagerating one bit.
 

DemonNite

Member
The US government is infinitely more reliable, legitimate, and trustworthy compared to the shit that is the North Korean government.

I would rather put my life (and that of my family) in the hands of the American government a million times over than the North Korean's.


Information about them has been out there for a while. People should be pissed off about them.

http://freekorea.us/camps/

Go read about them using mentally challenged children to test chemical and biological agents and other horror stories.

Thanks for posting that link.. a lot of things to read there. I also came across this link via it which talks about the worst camp there (camp 22)

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2004/feb/01/northkorea

Revealed: the gas chamber horror of North Korea's gulag
A series of shocking personal testimonies is now shedding light on Camp 22 - one of the country's most horrific secrets

In the remote north-eastern corner of North Korea, close to the border of Russia and China, is Haengyong. Hidden away in the mountains, this remote town is home to Camp 22 - North Korea's largest concentration camp, where thousands of men, women and children accused of political crimes are held.
Now, it is claimed, it is also where thousands die each year and where prison guards stamp on the necks of babies born to prisoners to kill them.

Over the past year harrowing first-hand testimonies from North Korean defectors have detailed execution and torture, and now chilling evidence has emerged that the walls of Camp 22 hide an even more evil secret: gas chambers where horrific chemical experiments are conducted on human beings.

Witnesses have described watching entire families being put in glass chambers and gassed. They are left to an agonising death while scientists take notes. The allegations offer the most shocking glimpse so far of Kim Jong-il's North Korean regime.

Kwon Hyuk, who has changed his name, was the former military attaché at the North Korean Embassy in Beijing. He was also the chief of management at Camp 22. In the BBC's This World documentary, to be broadcast tonight, Hyuk claims he now wants the world to know what is happening.

'I witnessed a whole family being tested on suffocating gas and dying in the gas chamber,' he said. 'The parents, son and and a daughter. The parents were vomiting and dying, but till the very last moment they tried to save kids by doing mouth-to-mouth breathing.'

Hyuk has drawn detailed diagrams of the gas chamber he saw. He said: 'The glass chamber is sealed airtight. It is 3.5 metres wide, 3m long and 2.2m high_ [There] is the injection tube going through the unit. Normally, a family sticks together and individual prisoners stand separately around the corners. Scientists observe the entire process from above, through the glass.'

He explains how he had believed this treatment was justified. 'At the time I felt that they thoroughly deserved such a death. Because all of us were led to believe that all the bad things that were happening to North Korea were their fault; that we were poor, divided and not making progress as a country.

'It would be a total lie for me to say I feel sympathetic about the children dying such a painful death. Under the society and the regime I was in at the time, I only felt that they were the enemies. So I felt no sympathy or pity for them at all.'


His testimony is backed up by Soon Ok-lee, who was imprisoned for seven years. 'An officer ordered me to select 50 healthy female prisoners,' she said. 'One of the guards handed me a basket full of soaked cabbage, told me not to eat it but to give it to the 50 women. I gave them out and heard a scream from those who had eaten them. They were all screaming and vomiting blood. All who ate the cabbage leaves started violently vomiting blood and screaming with pain. It was hell. In less than 20 minutes they were quite dead.'

Defectors have smuggled out documents that appear to reveal how methodical the chemical experiments were. One stamped 'top secret' and 'transfer letter' is dated February 2002. The name of the victim was Lin Hun-hwa. He was 39. The text reads: 'The above person is transferred from ... camp number 22 for the purpose of human experimentation of liquid gas for chemical weapons.'

Kim Sang-hun, a North Korean human rights worker, says the document is genuine. He said: 'It carries a North Korean format, the quality of paper is North Korean and it has an official stamp of agencies involved with this human experimentation. A stamp they cannot deny. And it carries names of the victim and where and why and how these people were experimented [on].'

The number of prisoners held in the North Korean gulag is not known: one estimate is 200,000, held in 12 or more centres. Camp 22 is thought to hold 50,000.

Most are imprisoned because their relatives are believed to be critical of the regime. Many are Christians, a religion believed by Kim Jong-il to be one of the greatest threats to his power. According to the dictator, not only is a suspected dissident arrested but also three generations of his family are imprisoned, to root out the bad blood and seed of dissent.

With North Korea trying to win concessions in return for axing its nuclear programme, campaigners want human rights to be a part of any deal. Richard Spring, Tory foreign affairs spokesman, is pushing for a House of Commons debate on human rights in North Korea.

'The situation is absolutely horrific,' Spring said. 'It is totally unacceptable by any norms of civilised society. It makes it even more urgent to convince the North Koreans that procuring weapons of mass destruction must end, not only for the security of the region but for the good of their own population.'

Mervyn Thomas, chief executive of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, said: 'For too long the horrendous suffering of the people of North Korea, especially those imprisoned in unspeakably barbaric prison camps, has been met with silence ... It is imperative that the international community does not continue to turn a blind eye to these atrocities which should weigh heavily on the world's conscience.'

·This World is being broadcast on BBC2 at 9pm tonight.
 

JaseC

gave away the keys to the kingdom.
That was simultaneously fascinating and depressing. And with that, I just bought the book.
 

Zaptruder

Banned
Wow the kid snitched at he's family, fucking them over, including himself.

What's shitty isn't so much that the kid snitched - but that people develop in a culture where reporting their family for execution... seems like a good idea. That is ends of the earth fucked up.

Like, you could try to devise a more sadistic culture, and you'd be lucky if you could manage to figure out one that could top this.
 

Enco

Member
Wow the kid snitched at he's family, fucking them over, including himself.
If only you were there to knock some sense into him. Right?

Horrific story. Fucking government. Everyone involved should be jailed for life or better yet, killed.
 

Raelson

Member
Will definitely buy this book
Recently read Nothing to Envy which was unbelievably good, and gives you a good perspective on the country.

Also, i've read testimonies worse than this. This camp doesn't even seem like one of the worst.
 

Monocle

Member
I read this article a few days ago. It's outrageous that the international community permits regimes like North Korea's to systematically torture and murder their own people. Humanitarian values should have no borders.

He snitched on his bro and mom.. If I was living in such a shithole, i would rather choose death than telling on my own family.
A person raised from birth in conditions of appalling hardship and cruelty is unlikely to develop traditional family bonds. Is social conditioning really such an opaque concept to you and the posters who have made similar remarks?
 
I didn't realize until almost the end of the excerpt that I'd heard about this guy before. I don't know if it's in Nothing to Envy or Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader, but one of the two makes mention of a man who only escaped a work-camp because his friend died on the fence and wedged it open for him. Strangely, whichever book it was didn't even really scrape the surface of the fucked-uppedness at play here.

North Korea as a whole is something I think will haunt us for a long time after the fall of the Kim regime. We have an idea of how bad it is, but realistically nobody wants an end to the current regime in power because forcing regime change would have potentially devastating impact on that part of the world due to refugees. It's an almost impossible problem.

National Geographic: Inside North Korea, I believe, has the story and an interview with the guy who escaped after his friend was electrocuted by the fence.
 

Enco

Member
A person raised from birth in conditions of appalling hardship and cruelty is unlikely to develop traditional family bonds. Is social conditioning really such an opaque concept to you and the posters who have made similar remarks?
Posters like that are all knowing beings. Duh.

They understand every situation and experience.
 

Kyoufu

Member
This is awful. I really really hope that the West can help the people of NK. That government must be stopped.
 

Angry Fork

Member
NK is the worst place on earth imo. It's a philistine re-creation of 1984.

I would seriously consider joining the military if we ever decided to overthrow their regime and end (or at least try to end) the misery. That's not going to happen though, South Korea would have to be on board too and willing to risk attacks on them.
 

clemenx

Banned
I always hate the negative connotation that the word "snitch" has. But using it in this case is being fucking stupid, I'm sorry.
 
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