The living proof of what´s happening in North Korea


Shin Dong-Hyuk, born in a northkorean concentration camp, escaped at the age of 23, becoming the first person running away from that hell and showing the world the fatalities that were done in between those walls.

Activists For North Korean Human Rights Rally In Washington

Shin Dong-Hyuk (Photo: Getty)

The first memory from his childhood was an execution. He was walking by the hand of his mother while the guards forced them to look at the wall. There, a man with his face covered and his hands tied, was begging for his life. Suddenly, four shots were heard and the man fell to the ground dead. No one cried or asked why he was killed. Throughout his life this scene was repeated again and again until he got used to it. Over time he came to believe that hard work was the only way to redeem their sins, that death of traitors was fair, that hunger and torture were natural and, that awful place was his home. Since his birth the only world he knew was The Field Number 14. Shin was one of the more than 150,000 prisoners from North Koreans camps, where they work 15 hours a day in farms, mines and factories until they die of exhaustion. They slept on the bare floor. No beds, no chairs or tables. Nothing. They only had electricity two hours a day. They didn’t have soap, socks, underwear or even toilet paper. As they had almost no food, they hunted frogs, rats and bugs to calm their hunger. Once he found three grains of corn in a pile of muck and “as miserable as it may seem, that was my lucky day”. This is how he gained courage enough to escape without a map and no idea of what layed beyond the walls in where, like other prisoners, was sentenced to life imprisonment for political offenses.

 

Shin’s body has recorded everything. His bones are stunted by malnutrition, his abdomen still has the mark of the hook they used to hang him from as form of torture, he has a missing finger because he accidentally dropped a sewing machine while he was working, he has marks of burnings from head-to-toe from the electric fence he passed to escape. This is only a bit of the struggle of his life.

 

Shin was completely indoctrinated and so, at age 14, when he overheard a conversation between his mother and his brother about the possibility of escaping, did not hesitate to report them to a guard. Within a few hours of having betrayed, his mother was hanged and his brother was executed. Shin felt he had done his duty. “To me they represented only other prisoners, because I had no concept of family,” says the young. But the guards did not reward his act of loyalty, on the contrary, they accused him of being his accomplice and he was subjected to the worst humiliations to make him confess.

 

Nine years later, he ran away. He was working in the garment factory camp where he met a prisoner who had seen the outside world and described it in detail. His new friend told him about televisions, computers and cell phones. He even had to explain to him that the world was round.

 

On January the 2nd, 2005, while they were collecting firewood in a mountainous corner of the field, they noticed that the guards were distracted and ran towards the fence. His friend was the first to attempt to cross it but he was electrocuted. His body slumped over the wire and created enough space for Shin to slip through the two wires and make it to freedom.

 

According to the interview of Anderson Cooper.

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