Top positive review
One person found this helpful
Informative and shocking in places
on 8 July 2015
I didn't know very much about North Korea before I read this book and, of course, I don't know a whole lot more now but I this story has enlightened me to some of the activities this repressive regime. This is the story of Shin who was born and brought up in the camp to which both his parents had been sent - it is a biography and the details here are reputed to be accurate and the author has made every attempt to try and make sure that they are. If you have read any factual books set in concentration camps during World War II or in the Soviet Union you will recognise a lot of what is described.
Shin grows up in the camp and labours along with others, both adult and children. He is subjected to the whims and arbitrary rules of the guards who create an atmosphere of mistrust and suspicion. He sees both his mother and brother executed, is tortured himself, lives on starvation rations and witnesses many acts of atrocity. Through a set of circumstances he develops the ability to escape, which he does, although not without casualty. The most eye opening part of the book for me was not the time in the camp but the description of the adjustments that Shin had to make to fit in with “normal” life – I hadn’t really grasped this before as most books about this sort of escape assume that everyone lives happily in the glorious free world.
This is a difficult subject matter but told in an accessible way. The author doesn't shy away from the worst that Shin has to tell and the story is conveyed in a way that is informative and touching rather than over-dwelling on the hardship and misery. In the end we are unsure of how Shin will face his future or what it will hold for him and we are always aware of the hundreds and thousands of other people still living in the camps.