Early Praise for Escape from Camp 14

If you have a soul, you will be changed forever by Blaine Harden’s Escape from Camp 14. No longer will you describe North Korea with sweeping but impersonal adjectives – repressive, brutal, authoritarian. Now you will know a specific kind of hell, designed to crush the spirit of nearly all doomed to live there, as revealed by the experiences of a remarkable young man named Shin. Born inside the electrified fences of a political prison camp – concentration camp is more like it – Shin eventually escapes a world where morality has no meaning. Harden masterfully allows us to know Shin, not as a giant but as a man, struggling to understand what was done to him and what he was forced to do to survive. By doing so, Escape from Camp 14 stands as a searing indictment of a depraved regime and a tribute to all those who cling to their humanity in the face of evil. —  Mitchell Zuckoff, author of Lost in Shangri-La


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This is a story unlike any other because Shin is one of the few, if not only, long-term prisoners to have escaped from the North Korean gulag.  It is most harrowing not only because it is true, but because the conditions it describes persist to 2011 in North Korea, where a vast gulag is home to hundreds of thousands of slave laborers, including children bred in captivity, like Shin.  More so than any other book on North Korea, including my own, Escape from Camp 14 exposes the cruelty that is the underpinning of Kim Jong Il’s regime. Blaine Harden, a veteran foreign correspondent from The Washington Post, tells this story masterfully. Harden doesn’t flinch from the darker side of the story. He takes straight-on questions about Shin’s credibility and explains methodically how he went about corroborating his story… The integrity of this book shines through on every page” – Barbara Demick, author of Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

“In Escape from Camp 14, Blaine Harden tells the astonishing tale of Shin Dong-hyuk:  his birth and upbringing amid the barbarism of a North Korean prison camp; his betrayal of family; and his eventual escape and resettlement in the United States. Through the extraordinary arc of Shin’s life, Harden illuminates the North Korea that exists beyond the headlines and creates a moving testament to one man’s struggle to retrieve his own lost humanity” – Marcus Noland, co-author of Witness to Transformation: Refugee Insights into North Korea

“Over 21,000 North Koreans have succeeded in escaping to South Korea by 2011. So far as we know, only one was born in a political prison camp in the notorious North Korean gulag. Author Blaine Harden tells the story of the lucky Mr. Shin, who escaped from twenty-three years of hardship in Camp 14 and found his way to South Korea and eventually to the United States. Mr. Shin’s story, at times painful to read, recounts his physical and psychological journey from a lifetime of imprisonment in a closed and unfeeling prison society to the joys and challenges of life in a free society where he can live like a human being.” – Kongdan Oh, co-author of The Hidden People of North Korea: Everyday Life in the Hermit Kingdom

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