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Horrors of North Korea's hidden gulags revealed by escapee

Pyongyang, Sat, 14 Apr 2012 ANI

Pyongyang, Apr 14(ANI): North Korea's notorious gulag labour camps have over 200,000 men, women and children currently held captive. And the horror of these 'concentration death camps' has been revealed by an escapee, who is one out of the only three people who ever managed to escape the torturous world that exists in these camps.

Shin Dong-hyuk, was born inside Camp 14, which was a notorious labour camp for political dissidents located south of Pyongyang.

"The first rule was that you cannot escape. And there were other parts to that first rule such as if you attempt to escape you will be shot to death and those that sought the attempt to escape another prisoner and failed to report, they themselves would be shot as well," Shin said to Fox News in an interview.

At the age of 22, Shin managed to escape after plotting with a fellow inmate, who had grown up on the outside. Hyuk and his friend made a run for the electric fence as they were gathering wood. But his friend was electrocuted on the fence which actually allowed Shin to climb over the body, avoiding any injury and escape. He then made his way to the border, walking across a frozen river to China.

"My feeling at that time, even if I were to get shot and die, was that I would want to experience even just for one day of that freedom and that life that this prisoner had told me so much about. Unfortunately, it was only I who was able to escape successfully," Shin said, who was willing to risk death for the chance to be free.

Reports said that Shin has severe burn scars on his back from being tortured. He was 14 when his mother and brother tried to escape the camp but Shin turned them in. He said he knew that he would be punished if his mother and brother tried to escape, so to him, there was no choice but to tell the guards of their plan.

He says he watched as his mother and brother were killed by the camp officials.

"Right now, it's hard for me to understand what I did at that time... So after I come to South Korea and learned about the outside world and learned about family, I was only 14 years old at that time, I realized I had committed an unimaginable thing and I felt much guilt at that time," Shin said in the interview.

Shin said that all the prisoners of the labour camp had a habit of looking down whenever they walked, in hope of finding any food or food scraps.

"As I was walking, on the ground I saw two pieces of two kernels of corn that was in the cow dung that was on the ground," Shin said. "Without giving it much thought, I took the two kernels of corn and did whatever I could to wash it or clean it up. I ate them because I was so hungry."

Author Blaine Harden in her new book, "Escape from Camp 14", has detailed Shin's extraordinary escape and conditions in these modern day concentration camps. (ANI)

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