One of the most prominent publications last year on the subject of North Korea was Escape from Camp 14 – the story of an escapee from one of North Korea’s death camps. While such a story is rare in itself, what makes Shin Dong-hyuk’s tale more remarkable is that he was actually born in one of those camps, and so knew nothing first-hand of the world outside prior to his escape.
The story caught the imagination of film-maker Mark Wiese, and the resulting documentary is screening as part London’s Human Rights Watch Film Festival this month.
Camp 14 – Total Control Zone
March 18, 2013 6:15 PM / Curzon Soho
March 20, 2013 6:15 PM / Ritzy Cinema
Presented with: The Bar Human Rights Committee and Anti-Slavery International
Camp 14 – Total Control Zone is a fascinating portrait of a young man who grew up imprisoned by dehumanizing violence yet still found the will to escape. Born inside a North Korean prison camp as the child of political prisoners, Shin Dong-Huyk was raised in a world where all he knew was punishment, torture, and abuse. Filmmaker Marc Wiese crafts his documentary by quietly drawing details from Shin in a series of interviews in which Shin’s silence says as much as his words. Weaving anecdotes from a former camp guard and a member of the secret police with powerful animated scenes capturing key moments in Shin’s life, Wiese pulls audiences into Shin’s world. Shin escapes and becomes a human rights ‘celebrity,’ but as we see, his life outside the camp is often just as challenging as it was inside it.
Courtesy of Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment. Official Selection Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival 2012 and Toronto International Film Festival 2012
Presented in association with The Bar Human Rights Committee, www.barhumanrights.org.uk and Anti-Slavery International, www.anti-slavery.org
North Korea operates a network of political prison camps known as gwa-li-so, a word that strikes fear in North Koreans who know that the brutal forced labour, near-starvation rations, and abuse by prison guards means that being sent there is akin to a death sentence. With research based on testimonies of Shin and others who have managed to flee the country, Human Rights Watch is campaigning to establish a United Nations commission of inquiry to investigate crimes against humanity taking place in the gwa-li-so and other detention centres in the country.