Monday, January 21, 2013

How one man escaped from a North Korean prison camp
“By the way,” Shin asked, “where is Pyongyang?”

Shin’s question stunned Park. He explained that Pyongyang, located about 50 miles south of Camp 14, was the capital of North Korea, the city where the country’s powerful people lived. Park said he had grown up there, studying in East Germany and the Soviet Union. After returning home, he had become chief of a taekwondo training centre. Park explained what life was like outside Camp 14. He told Shin about money, television, computers and mobile phones. He explained that the world was round.

Much of what Park talked about was difficult for Shin to understand, believe or care about. What delighted him – what he kept begging for – were stories about eating. Park described chicken, pork and beef in China, Hong Kong, Germany, England and the former Soviet Union. Intoxicated, Shin made perhaps the first free decision of his life. He chose not to snitch.

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