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.
As is well known, the hairiness of the Ainos marks them sharply off from the smooth-faced Japanese. No one can look at photographs of Ainos without admitting that the often-repeated comparison of them to bearded Russian peasants is much to the purpose. The likeness is much strengthened by the bold quasi-European features of the Ainos contrasting extremely with the Japanese type of face. Of course all this has suggested a theory of the Ainos belonging to the Aryan race; and, although the idea comes to nothing when examined strictly, its existence is an acknowledgment of the special Aino race-type. Mention must also be made of an anatomical peculiarity of the Aino skeleton, consisting of a remarkable flattening of the arm- and leg-bones. On the whole it is evident that the Ainos are an ancient race in this part of Asia, and so far isolated that anthropology has not yet the means of settling their physical connection with other Asiatic tribes. Professor Chamberlain's careful examination of the Aino language leads him to a similar result. It is made not only from his own knowledge, but with the advantage of working with the Rev. John Batchelor, who has lived as a missionary among the Ainos for years, and written the Grammar printed as a part of these Aino Studies. In structure the resemblances which the Aino presents to Japanese are outweighed by the differences; and, though it may ultimately prove to fall into a north-east Asiatic group of languages, this is so far from being made out that it is safest for the present to treat both race and language as isolated. Inasmuch as the little civilisation now possessed by the Ainos has in great measure been learnt from the Japanese, it is natural that their modern language should have picked up numbers of Japanese words, from the name of kamui which they give to their gods, down to the rice-beer or sake in which they seek continual drunkenness, now their main source of enjoyment. One purpose which their language serves is to prove how widely they once spread over the country now Japan, where place-names alone remain to indicate a former Aino population. Some of these are unmistakeably Aino, as Yamashiro, which must have meant "land of chestnut trees," and Shikyu, "place of rushes." Others, if interpreted as Japanese, have a far-fetched sense, as, for instance, the villages of Mennai and Tonami, which, if treated as Japanese, would signify "inside permission" and "hares in a vow"; whereas, if taken to be originally Aino they may bear the reasonable sense of "bad stream" and "stream from the lake." The inference from records and local names, worked out with great care by Professor Chamberlain, is "that the Ainos were truly the predecessors of the Japanese all over the Archipelago. The dawn of history shows them to us living far to the south and west of their present haunts; and ever since then, century by century, we see them retreating eastwards and northwards, as steadily as the American Indian has retreated westwards under the pressure of the colonists from Europe."