A New York Times bestseller, the shocking story of one of the few people born in a North Korean political prison to have escaped and surv...
Jill Whitman's insight:
The story Escape from Camp 14 follows the journey of Shin Dong-hyuk as he struggles to survive in a North Korean political prison camp and to cope with the outside world after he escapes. During this time in North Korea, the country is in a constant state of struggle as they are forced to rely on foreign countries to supply materials necessary for the survival of North Korea and it’s citizens. Plagued by famine, an ineffective government, and eventually reduced aid from it’s supporters, North Korea’s society comes to the brink of collapse as people struggle for food and other resources, and corruption overwhelms all societal classes. Shin, however, knows nothing of this until shortly before his escape from Camp 14. His existence was centered on undeniable hunger and avoidance of pain. Even after his escape and subsequent travel through China, South Korea, and finally the United States, Shin continues to struggle to assimilate into society and find a place for himself as he cares little for civilized worries and is unable to leave his traumatic past behind him.
Getting into North Korea was one of the hardest and weirdest processes VBS has ever dealt with. From the authors: After we went back and forth with their...
Jill Whitman's insight:
The Vice documentary “Inside North Korea” reflects on the pristine but strange culture portrayed by North Korea to foreigners and the public. The North Korean government and its elite members pull out all stops to display North Korea as a perfect, peaceful, and successful country filled with happy and thriving citizens. When they are unable to portray this image, they simple don’t allow tourists or journalists into the country or keep them to designated areas that highlight the particular aspects of the country that are beautiful and well kept. However, its impossible to hide the unmistakable poverty of North Korea as run down buildings and homeless people reside in all areas, even its most militarized areas and city for the elite, Pyongyang.
The North Korean PEOPLE have massive potential to drive change in their country. We exist to empower the PEOPLE.
Jill Whitman's insight:
Liberty in North Korea is a nonprofit grassroots organization determined to spread awareness about North Korean human rights violations. LiNK focuses their efforts both at their home base, in the United States, and in North Korea. In the US, they work to raise awareness of this issue within the American public by speaking at thousands of events across the country and encouraging people to join the organization’s cause. In North Korea, the team focuses on the people who are in danger of human rights violations by performing rescues and providing resettlement support to refugees in hiding while pursuing a peaceful end to the North Korean crisis. To successfully accomplish these efforts the organization has created several campaigns, such as The Hundred, The Reliance, SHIFT, and Bridge, to raise awareness and funds in the United States while helping refugees in North Korea.
Sattelite photographs captured by Amnesty International display the rapid expansion of North Korea's prison camps. Camp 16, pictured above, is the largest of the known gulags created to hold citizens who had fallen out of political favor with the government. The implementation of additional housing structures and resource production facilities, such as mining and loging, to these prison camps depict North Korea's continued reliance on them for economic resources and destruction of government opposition.
North Korea is today one of the last bastions of hard-line Communism. Its leaders have kept a tight grasp on their one-party regime, quas...
Jill Whitman's insight:
The Aquariums of Pyongyang seems to be a good book to read in addition to Escape from Camp 14 in order to delve even farther into the cruel reality of Korean prison camps. The story follows the journey of, Kang Chol-hwan, a North Korean gulag survivor who offers an entirely different perspective than Shin Dong-hyuk in Escape from Camp 14. Kang was the first to be sent to a gulag and eventually escape while Shin was the first to be born into a political prison camp and later escape whilst knowing nothing of the outside world. The lack of naïveté Kang had of his situation in comparison to Shin is sure to provide an interesting, telling, and thought provoking read.
North Korea is a small country that exists in a constant state of turmoil and chaos caused by forces outside and inside its borders. Just outside North Korea's northern border lies China, the country's primary allie, while directly at their southern border they face South Korea, their oldest enemy along with the United States. Situated in this increasing hostile location, the country's fragility has since created a paranoid government and increasingly frustrated public population that produce immense strain and corruption at all levels of Korean society.
The extent of North Korea's hardships are clearly displayed in the quality of life its citizens have. With frequent famines and lack of economic opportunities, starvation and poverty affect almost all who live in the country. Despite the aid of foreign countries, the risk of starvation is only increasing as time goes on and more people, mostly children, continue to lose their lives.
Amnesty International is an organization working to promote and protect human rights around the world. This organization fights against a variety of issues, including violations against women’s, children’s, prisoners’, and refugees’ rights. In an effort to combat these issues the organization has created several campaigns, such as the Immigrants’ Rights are Human Rights Campaign and the Demand Dignity Campaign to inspire a global movement to fight injustice. As described by Amnesty International, at the heart of their work is a campaign for Individuals at Risk (IAR), protecting individuals who are at risk of human rights violations and abuses. This specific campaign utilizes the efforts of ordinary people around the globe to aid specific individuals and pressure governing bodies to address underlying human rights issues. With a rapidly increasing number of human rights cases won with the help of Amnesty International, their reach and capabilities have hugely expanded to even further help people across the world.
The New York Times’ article “The Pain of Good Intentions” by Nicholas D. Kristof, explains the hard life of a North Korean refugee currently living in China and the possible solutions that could further establish the rights of North Korean refugees in foreign countries. According to the article, China alone sends about 100 escaped North Koreans a week back to their home country, despite the knowledge that they will face harsh punishment and abuse following their return. China’s defiance of international law by sending back these refugees has gone virtually unchecked in recent years, but several United States organizations, groups, and government offices have begun to actually hold China accountable and take steps to help ensure the newfound freedom of these refugees. However, as many fear, the United States efforts could easily backfire to create harsher conditions for refugees instead of meeting their primary goal, fully opening up China and Russia to North Korean refugees.
This Newsweek International article, “The Keys to the Kim-Dom” discusses the current instability of North Korea caused by the succession of a new leader and wariness from other countries. North Korea’s continuous transfer of absolute power through hereditary succession provides opportunities for under qualified and unpopular leaders to arise to a position of total control. The newest leader, Kim Jong Eun, is often considered both unpopular and under qualified as he takes on enormous expectations and a roll held by the beloved Outstanding Leader, Great Leader, and Eternal Leader. Kim Jong Eun’s, and his predecessors’, suspicious and deceitful actions have pushed foreign countries that had previously supplied aid to fully or partially withdraw food and resource aid that has sustained North Korea for decades. This withdrawal, whether gradual or sudden, has since pushed the country into a state of instability clear to all.
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