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Clif's Book World

Adventures from reading books captured within short reviews.

Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West - Blaine Harden Ever wonder why the world didn't do more to end the horrors of Stalin's gulags or Hitler's work camps? Someday our children (or perhaps grandchildren or great-grandchildren) will ask the same question about our world today. Why doesn't the world do more to end the horrible inhumanity imposed on people in the work camps of North Korea? And the political prison camps in North Korea have existed twice as long as Stalins Soviet gulags and twelve times as long as the Nazi concentration camps, and there's no end in site of the between 150,000 and 200,000 people who live in those camps.
“Yet while Auschwitz existed for only three years, Camp 14 is a fifty-year-old Skinner box, an ongoing longitudinal experiment in repression and mind control in which guards breed prisoners whom they control, isolate, and pit against one another from birth.”
The existence of these camps can be verified by anyone with a computer and internet using Google Earth, and still there's limited awareness among the world's public of conditions in these camps. North Korea's belligerant reputation combined with nuclear weapons has prevented international pressure to be focused on their work camps.
“When North Korea deigns to enter into international diplomacy, it has always succeeded in shoving human rights off any negotiating table. Crisis management, usually focused on nuclear weapons and missiles, has dominated American dealings with the North.”
It takes a pretty strong stomach to read this book. I could write a long list of horrible things described by this book, but I've decided to refrain from going there. You can read other reviews for that. The story is not a pretty one, and frankly leaves readers such as myself feeling helpless with the knowledge conveyed. I suggest that at the least, good citizens of the world owe it to the prisoners of North Korea to at least be informed about the existance of their conditions.

Here's a link to my review of "Orphan Master's Son," a novel about life in North Korea.