NK political camp escapee urges action on prisoners
“We have to halt the holocaust which is North Korea. I hope you will remember our people suffering in prisons, instead of me after you read this book.”
In a seminar in Paris on Monday, North Korean defector Shin Dong-hyuk, 31, spoke out on his hardship in the harsh concentration camp and how he escaped from there. He defected to the free world, escaping the prison, where he was born and had grown up, at the age of 24 in 2005.
He is a real figure in "Escape From Camp 14" authored by Blaine Harden, a former correspondent to East Asia for the Washington Post. Following the publication of its French edition, he testified to his experience to some 80 Koreans and French people at the Paris Baptist Church.
“It was like an animal’s life and I even didn’t know what love or family was,” he said. “I decided to escape upon hearing about food ranking officials from outside were enjoying.”
He said he was greatly disappointed at the cold reaction about the experience four years ago in a publication.
“I felt pain when South Koreans showed only curiosity even though the issue was a matter of life or death for North Koreans in prison,” he said. “But when I saw Westerns struggling to solve the problem in tears, I felt shameful as a Korean.”
He said that he had decided to allow Harden to publish the book as he persuaded him for nine months with a strong promise that he will lead world’s attention to help North Koreans in political prisons in the North.
“It’s not late yet. We must prevent the cruel holocaust. Please pray for victims and find a way in which you can do for them,” he said, calling for more support for the political prisoners in his homeland.
Harden, who was also invited to the seminar, said that the Korean version is expected to be released around the end of this year as he has recently signed a contract on the matter.
The seminar was co-hosted by the West European branch of the National Unification Advisory Council, the Association of Korean Residents of France, the French branch of the Korean Veterans Association, Chungsol Association and the French branch of the Center for Movement of Intellectual Culture and Arts in Korea.