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Posts Tagged ‘Shin Dong-Hyuk

When Transcendence Goes Missing

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One more glimpse into North Korea

tumblr_mhrg2x0maI1qbcporo1_500-02062013Jason asked about how Shin Dong-Hyuk in Escape from Camp 14 kept his sanity: was there any talk of faith in the book? There was, though it was at the far end of the story, after Shin made his way to California. There he was helped by a family who welcomed him into meals and daily life and helped him understand the give and take of trusting family relationships. So indoctrinated was Shin in the North Korean prison camp system of snitching on others and assuming no one (including parents and family) would look out for him, that he had a very hard time with ordinary relationships.

Early on in the story, Shin’s attention is focused on survival. The entire nation is focused on just getting to the slimmest subsistence level of caloric intake, which was especially true of the political prison system. In one story, a child who found five or six kernels of corn in a fold of clothing and quickly ate them was soundly beaten by the prison guard/teacher. That’s the level of desperation. In this setting, there was little room for anything behind always scanning for rats or bugs to eat. And since Shin was born in the political prison, the only faith presented was a faith in finding hidden problems with others that could be reported to guards in exchange for slightly better treatment. Shin knew nothing of God and was entirely focused on staying alive.

It’s an ugly story.

Shin did come to a faith in God after living with this family in California. Blaine Harden, the journalist who did such an excellent job assembling and telling Shin’s story, struggled with how Shin retold stories of escape after he came to faith: he started to see how God was involved back then. Harden is right in pointing out Shin knew nothing of God at the time (of his imprisonment). It seemed to Harden Shin was adding in new elements in the retelling. But for me, as a person of faith, I can understand how Shin looked back and saw connections he did not notice earlier.

But Harden’s story is not a story of faith in God. It is a brutal story of survival.

Did I mention this book is worth reading? There is a long waiting list at our local library.


Image credit: Bousure via 2headedsnake

Written by kirkistan

February 6, 2013 at 8:35 am

North Korea Death Watch

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Is there an app for that?

9780143122913_p0_v1_s260x420-02042013One-third of the nation is chronically malnourished. Hundreds of thousands are in political prison camps. Some are born, live (meagerly) and die in political prison camps under Kim Jong Il/Un/Whatever’s three-generation policy (lock up the family that disagrees with the party line for three generations). This I saw through the story of Shin Dong-Hyuk’s Escape from Camp 14. I defy you to read this book and not come away thinking the entire nation is a prison camp—and absolutely corrupt—focused on supporting the lifestyle and many mansions of Kim Jong Il/Un/Whatever (and a few party elites. Very few).

Amazingly, this is happening right now. Today. This instant. This isn’t something in the past. See the prison camps for yourself.

But how long will we see the prison camps? As Kim Jong Un continues to starve and beat the North Korean population, how long will it be before loyalists hide evidence of these camps? Probably the population is already digging their own graves and praying to fall in.

Surely there is an app that can track the square feet of these prison camps and help the world watch as Kim Jong Un tries to hide their criminal record.


Written by kirkistan

February 4, 2013 at 3:40 pm

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