Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West

This book is about the only man who managed to escape from one of North Korea's high security concentration camps and lived to tell his story to a journalist. Shin Dong-hyuk was born in a concentration camp. His mother and father have been allowed to get married inside the camp as a prize for their obedience and hard work. They never lived together as a family. Shin had a brother but he lived in another facility inside the camp. Shin knew nothing of the outside world. He was raised as a hard worker and he was trained to snitch on his family, classmates and coworkers. He was beaten and he was always hungry. He used to steal his mother's food and he hated her a lot.
Click here to see the rest of this review

One night he overheard his mother and his brother talking about escaping the camp. The brother was in big trouble so the mother advised him to try and escape. Shin was shocked and he run to the director of the camp and divulged the plan. The next day, Shin, his father, mother and brother were taken to a subterranean prison. Instead of receiving a prize for his information, Shin was brutally beaten and tortured. The director lied and told everyone that he was the one who uncovered the plan to escape so he was rewarded for his success. Shin got really sick so he was placed in a cell with and old man who took great care of his wounds and told him a lot of things about the outside world.
One day Shin was taken out and he had to witness his mother and his brother's execution. After that he was released from prison and he got back to being a simple worker. The camp had a lot of production facilities so he had different jobs. He met another man who told him about the outside world so they decided to escape together. Shin wanted to escape because he was always hungry and he wanted nothing more than to eat meat.
They tried to escape through the electric fence but Shin's friend touched the wires, he got electrocuted and died. Shin stepped on his body and managed to get out alive even if he got severe burns from the electricity.
Shin traveled from town to town and managed to survive by stealing food and clothes from empty houses and selling the objects for money. He traveled north and crossed the border to China by bribing the guards with cigarettes and small packages of food. He worked at some farms near the border than he traveled to the big cities looking for work and money. He met a man who helped him get to South Korea and he started a new life in a free country as a free human being. He tried very hard to adjust to the new world he was living in but his struggles were sometimes unsuccessful. He found it really hard to keep his job and he was lonely. He got depressed and he got psychiatric treatment. He had nightmares and he felt terribly guilty about betraying his own family.   
Shin's story attracted many agencies and the people offered him moral support and they advised him to go to the United Stated. Shin traveled to the United States and met some friendly people who advised him to tell the whole world his terrifying story. At first he was scared and shy but than he managed to overcome his problems and openly discuss his life. He met a nice girl and he decided to settle in the United Stated for a while.
Best part of story, including ending: The story uncovers some horrible things about the North Korean regime but I liked it because it was very informative and on point.

Best scene in story: I liked the scene where Shin managed to get over his anxieties and told his real life story to a group of people in a church.

Opinion about the main character: I liked Shin's great desire to become a normal human being. I have only compassion for him and I would like to hear more about him.

The review of this Book prepared by Andreea Lupei a Level 5 American Goldfinch scholar

Chapter Analysis of Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West

Click on a plot link to find similar books!

Plot & Themes

Ethnic/Relig. of subject (inside)    -   North Korea Ethnic/regional/gender    -   Yes Which institution    -   prison camp Life in an institution    -   Yes Period of greatest activity?    -   1950+

Subject of Biography

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   unemployed Ethnicity    -   Other Asian


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   5 () United States    -   Yes The US:    -   California Asia/Pacific    -   Yes Asian country:    -   North Korea (bad!) Misc setting    -   prison Century:    -   1980's-Present

Writing Style

Book makes you feel?    -   angry If this is a kid's book:    -   Age 16-Adult Pictures/Illustrations?    -   None How much dialogue in bio?    -   little dialog How much of bio focuses on most famous period of life?    -   26-50% of book

Books with storylines, themes & endings like Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West

Blaine Harden Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
2 Ways to Search!

Our Chief Librarian