Buffalo & Erie County Public Library Staff Review by Carol Ann Strahl:
Some readers might find the subject matter too disturbing but, I believe, we need to be aware of the depth of human suffering that we are still inflicting on each other.
This is the true story of a young North Korean man, Shin Dong-Hyuk, who was born in one of North Korea’s most infamous labor camps and who courageously escaped from its confines in early 2005. The living conditions in the camp were unbelievably wretched. Today, there is still an estimated 200,000 people in these facilities.
Shin’s living quarters had no beds, chairs, tables, running water, bathroom or shower. He was always hungry. He did attend a school and was not allowed to ask questions. He was only taught to add and subtract. In order to survive he became a snitch and a thief. His earliest memory was watching an execution. He knew nothing of the outside world until he met a new prisoner who told him something about what was beyond the electrified fences. His escape was precipitated not by a thirst for freedom but by merely being hungry for meat.
In one of the most poignant passages, he relates that all the time he was in the camp, he never heard the word ‘LOVE’. How he survived is a miracle. We hear so often the expression “Triumph of the Human Spirit.” Shin’s life is a testament to this triumph.
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