The other day I was in the car and The Current came on. Anna Maria was reporting about a man who managed to escape from Camp 14 in North Korea. I hadn't heard anything about the camps in North Korea before, but in the introduction, she described the report as being a heroing escape, so it piqued my interest. Little did I know that I would end up being completely enthralled, disgusted, nauseous, amazed, scared and in such disbelief by listening to the show.
Basically, in North Korea, there are prison camps (political labor camps) where both men and women are kept and brutally worked and tortured. They are supposed to neutralize people who are known to be a threat to the state and are literally used to scare the living crap out of the regular population and thereby keep people in line. The camps are described in the report as being "hideously cruel", and after hearing the story, I can say that is an understatement.
This report is painful to listen to, but something made me not only listen to it all, but listen to it again and then want to post about it. This is the story of the one known escapee from Camp 14, Shin Dong-hyuk. I guess what I have the biggest problem with, besides the fact that this sort of cruelty even exists anywhere in the world, is the fact that Shin was a person who was not a political prisoner nor was he in prison for being a criminal. Shin was born in the prison. He knew only the prison life, and his parents were, as a result, nothing more than competition for food. He was raised as a slave child and brainwashed to the rules of the camp and lived his first 20+ years in total ignorance and fear... and there was no real reason for him to even be there. He spent every moment of his life from birth being a victim, a slave and a prisoner for doing nothing wrong.. just for being born.
How. Can. This. Kind. Of. Atrocity. Happen. On. This. Planet?!
And not only happen, but continue to happen? Continue to happen and be hidden by government, denied and covered up, all the while, growing generations of slaves who are so afraid for their lives that they can't even think the word "escape" without fear of death. How can children be BORN into that scenario and be kept there to continue to be punished for things that their relatives from generations ago had done? Since when is it okay to punish someone out of mere association?! He couldn't help that he was born. How can this type of inhumanity be justified on a daily basis in North Korea?
Well I feel like I could rant about this barbaric heinousness till I was blue in the face, but you can listen to the podcast here and then part two here (click on the "listen" button below the pictures of Shin). You can buy the book here. It will take a little less than an hour to listen to the podcast. But you know what? It's going to make you a better person. It will educate you, open your mind, make you a more compassionate person, and in some extreme cases it might even make you want to do something about it. At the very least, it will make you think about how to treat humanity... or moreso, how NOT to treat it, and by God almighty, that you should be very thankful for what you have in this western world.