N.Korean Gulag Survivor Stands by Story of Abuses

      December 10, 2014 12:28

      Shin Dong-hyuk

      Shin Dong-hyuk, a survivor of the North Korean prison camp, has been angered by comments from a Korean-American woman who claims stories of abuses in the North are wildly exaggerated.

      "If you even mention the words 'political prison camp' in North Korea, you are hauled off to prison," Shin told an audience at a film screening in Seoul on Tuesday. "But people who have lived comfortable lives in capitalism often go to the North and come back saying it's not such a bad place."

      The screening was of the 2012 documentary "Camp 14: Total Control Zone" by German filmmaker Marc Wiese based on the book about Shin's life, "Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West" by Washington Post reporter Blaine Harden

      He insisted hard labor, beatings and torture are everyday part of life in the camps, families are separated and forced to survive on 20 kernels of corn a day, watching sporadic public executions.

      Shin frequently lectures about his horrific past and played a major role in the UN's adoption of a resolution condemning North Korea's human rights abuses.

      "They describe life in the prison camps as 'slavery' or 'living like animals,' but animals actually live in better conditions than humans there."

      Recently, North Korea paraded Shin's father before the media accusing his son of being a fake. But Shin said he fervently hopes to see his father again one day.

      Kim Tae-jung of United Media, which distributes the film in South Korea, said it has been screened in some 20 countries around the world since November 2012.

      "It's unfortunate that a documentary about North Korea's human rights abuses is so unpopular in South Korea." Kim said, "If we turn our backs on the abuses, we will create a monster that will hinder social cohesion after reunification."

      The documentary can be viewed via IPTV, or on DVD from the Citizens' Alliance for North Korean Human Rights.

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