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Shin Dong-Huyk was born on November 19, 1983 as a political prisoner in a North Korean re-education camp. He was a child of two prisoners who had been married by order of the wardens. He spent his entire childhood and youth in Camp 14, in fact a death camp. He was forced to labor since he was six years old and suffered from hunger, beatings and torture, always at the mercy of the wardens. He knew nothing about the world outside the barbed-wire fences. At the age of 23, with the help of an older prisoner, he managed to escape. For months he traveled through North Korea and China and finally to South Korea, where he encountered a world completely strange to him. Written by
No rational person can doubt the ferocity of life in DPRK. Nobody is safe, and I don't doubt at all the basic truths of this film. But I have one question, maybe I just missed the explanation but in a country where there is no individualism and everyone spies on everyone else--which we assume to be the case--how could a 14-year-old boy, after escaping from a labour camp like this, just turn up in a nearby village and hang out there with no money, no work, no relatives, no friends, and more importantly no contacts to shield him from local police or camp guards who knew he escaped and must have been looking for him? The film did say the frozen river made it easier then to cross into China, but he had no prior knowledge of the outside world apart from what he was told by his cellmate? It could not have been as "easy" as the film made it sound, given the circumstances of the escape and even the time of year when it would have been very cold.
On other points, the interlude among the group preparing for a road trip in support of Free DPRK was jarring in that it didn't lighten the mood, it just seemed out of place. And the chain-smoking ex-guard was pure evil, far more than any fictional character.
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