Eight years ago today on January 2, 2005, Shin Dong-hyuk climbed through the electrified fence (which had moments before killed his only friend) of Camp 14, a North Korean concentration camp where he had been held as prisoner (since birth) for 23 years, and began his long journey to freedom.
Despite having all the odds stacked against him, Mr. Shin was nevertheless able to make it out of North Korea and into China. After finally making his way to Shanghai he met a journalist who realized the importance of his story, and helped him sneak past Chinese guards into a South Korean consulate.
After more than two decades of living (in his own words), “as an animal,” he was finally able to start his transition to life “as a human,” which he states is an ongoing process.
Upon attaining asylum with South Korea, he also became the only known person born into a North Korean prison camp to have escaped and survived to tell the tale.
Two months ago I had the honor of meeting Mr. Shin in person at a speaking engagement, and from now on one of my goals in life is to share his story, as well as the issue of North Korean human rights, with as many people as possible.
Please take the time to look further into his story by checking out his Facebook page, and picking up his book, Escape from Camp 14.
There is also a master list of resources compiled by Tumblr user gedenkenbrauchtwissen relating to Mr. Shin, North Korea, human rights, and much much more. She has also painstakingly compiled and sourced an interactive map of Camp 14 via Google Earth.
More information regarding the many other camps, along with satellite photography and detailed analysis can be found at FreeKorea.us.
Most recently there was a 60 Minutes segment by Anderson Cooper regarding Camp 14 and the life of Mr. Shin.