Escape From Camp 14 Essay Example
About 150,000 prisoners work to death, get constantly beaten, and become subject to torture held in North Korea's labor camps. The North Korean regime is one of the most questioned and secreted societies in the world. Through the first person experience of Escape From Camp 14, readers can understand the introduction and the continuous existence of the labor camps. An intriguing story, the novel tells about a young boy named Shin; he grew up in a harsh totalitarianism regime that is known for being despicable and inescapable.
Throughout Shin’s journey and childhood in these camps, he faces many hardships: from his daring and dangerous escape, to his close encounters with guards at checkpoints. He survives in this regime while trying to build and sustain himself as he attempts to escape this living hell and migrate to nearby country. In Escape from camp 14, Blaine Harden displays that confinement and impoverished living standards lead to a drastic change in morals; it ultimately creates a completely unnatural, vulnerable victim.
Blaine Harden displays a first person experience of the unrevealed regime in his novel. It displays many different unanticipated experiences that reveal the true encounters people in North korean labor camps go through. During the introduction of the book, you can truly understand the true secrecy of the regime, “Most North Koreans are sent to the camps without any judicial process, and many die there without learning the charges against them.” (Pg 6) This demonstrates the true difference in our countries; the country can simply take away rights of their citizens without providing any legal process. Even though these don’t relate directly to Shin, he was born in the camp alongside with his mother, it applies to many other people.
The way to get there is brutal, however the punishments they endure in the camps incite even more disgust, by this passage,” His right middle finger is cut off at the knuckle, a guard’s punishment for dropping a sewing machine in the camp’s garment factory.”(Pg.6) From the simple mistakes one of Shin’s fellow prisoners came a completely out of proportion punishment for such an innocent mistake. As Shin introduces himself as the main character of the book Harden describes the physical signs of torture on Shin.
He’s still very young, however still has many marks meaning they are beat constantly described in this quote, ”His arms are bowed from childhood labour. His lower back and buttocks are scarred with burns from the torturer’s fire. The skin over his pubis bears a puncture scar from the hook used to hold him in place over the fire. His ankles are scarred by shackles, from which he was hung upside down in solitary confinement.”(Pg 2) Through his punishments and other encounters Shin’s already made in the introduction of the book. It draws attention and helps give a better understanding of the true hellish situation Shin is stuck in, leaving to wonder what he will do about it as the book progresses.
As the book progresses, we continue to follow Shin’s journey throughout the camp. Readers start to focus less on the outrageous incidents and more on following Shin personally; all the traumatic experiences he encounters throughout the book, "He scrounged constantly for spilled cabbage soup, dipping his hand in cold dirty soup that had spilled on the floor and licking his fingers clean."(Pg.76) Despite Shin knowing the punishments he could face for showing any weakness or oppression, the the regime he still has to do what he can to survive passed what the regime expects of them.
He constantly struggles in every thinkable topic however, he has to figure out how to get passed it without getting beat,"He suddenly understood where he was and what he was missing. Camp 14 was no longer home. It was an abhorrent cage."(Pg. 108) He realizes that this is not the way to live and the outside world is way better so he starts to truly recognize that this place is a continuous cycle and if he doesn't get out or make the cycle some way easier he will be stuck in it for the rest of his lives including his future children’s lives as well. However, he knows the camps rules and how much of a punishment he will get based on this excerpt, "Any witness to an attempted escape who fails to report it will be shot immediately."(Pg. 53)
He knows that it’s not just the guards he has to worry about if he wants to get out of this “Abhorrent cage” he would also have to keep it a secret or other inmates will tell because they don’t want to get tortured. Through his experiences and repeated occurrences Shin grows mentally as he approaches his escape. to find the best possible way to do so without being tortured or punished to the point of pain -- or even death.
Finally, in the final third of the book Shin becomes very stressed over his possible death because of his planned escape. After his mother got executed and he found out the prisoners snitch to not get in trouble, the escape becomes more impossible by the minute. He pulled off the escape with his new friend Park. Through the escape, his friend park risked his life for Shin to get out by climbing the electric fence and dying on it.Shin used his body to climb on and shield him from the electric fence, "At first, I could not believe Shin because no one had ever succeeded in escape."(Pg. 168)
Due to the quietness and how low radar Shin has stayed the fellow prisoners did not think that he would escape due how lockdown and tightly organized the labor camp was. Nobody believed that he had actually escaped alive and other prisoners were punished for knowing about the escape, but not telling the guards even though they didn’t. He nearly escapes and sets out to escape to nearby countries to tell his story about these unknown camps."I believe most people will find it nearly impossible to know what I'm talking about." (Pg. 179)
As Shin escapes he tries to spread understanding for these still struggling innocent people who are working in such harsh conditions. People are not believing him, however due to how harsh the conditions are that he’s describing. As he grows and develops out of his past hellish life into a new real world one he adapts. However, he is still scared for his life of his past experiences.”Shin is still a prisoner."(Pg.180) Shin developed out of labor camps and saved the future of his kids. He lives subject to his early naturally influenced childhood. His being a vulnerable child in such a harsh regime will stick with Shin and scar him for the rest of his life.
Through Shin’s scaring memories that will last a lifetime we can get a true first person perspective into a vulnerable child experiences and childhoods. Although, He had a harsh childhood being born into a harsh regime we can get a informational understanding of vulnerable children and the nonfiction side of it the understanding of what really goes on in these North Korean labor camps. We can see that harden implemented in his story that impoverished living conditions can lead to vulnerable children is not just meant for children; it will scar you and leave you vulnerable for the rest of your life.