READER REPORT:

I've just finished reading: Escape From Camp 14

DAVID LIM
Last updated 05:00 20/09/2012
Escape
HARROWING: Escape from Camp 14

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I've just finished reading…

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I rediscovered the joys of reading on my recent three month escape from the New Zealand winter travelling around the world.

I managed to catch up on some books that I've always wanted to read - Rafael Nadal's autobiography being one of them.

There were books that fellow travellers recommended - F Scott Fitzgerald's The Beautiful and Damned, The Girl with the Pearl Earring.

And then there were books I wish they hadn't recommended - Fifty Shades of Grey is really just porn wrapped in paperback.

However, one book that I would highly recommend is Escape from Camp 14.

Escape from Camp 14 is what it says on the tin. Blaine Harden's book tells the harrowing and often heartbreaking tale of Shin Dong-Hyuk, who was born in one of the many massive gulags in the hermit kingdom of North Korea but escaped to China and then America in his teens.

For those with a weak fortitude, this may not be the right book for you. There are a lot of graphic details of how prisoners in the gulags are treated - many were murdered for "crimes" they often didn't commit.

It is hard to believe in this day of age that an evil and inhumane dictatorship like North Korea's can still exist - yet the gulags are still very much an issue.

Thankfully the book has a happy ending but unlike fairy tales, the main character doesn't quite live happily ever after. In fact, as expected for someone born into a life of hardship and torture, it illustrates what a struggle it is for such people to adapt to the world we all take for granted after living for so long with absolutely nothing.   

Definitely a must-read. One can't imagine what the world would see if North Korea's hermit government ever got toppled and the country got opened up to the world.


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