|From Google Earth - Kaechon Gulag No 14 - School for Child Prisoners|
Asahi Shimbun has a piece on Shin Dong-hyuk, a North Korean defector who was born in Camp 14, a political prison in Kaechon, 80 kilometers north of Pyongyang.
He said the camp was like a town. It had a population of several tens of thousands of prisoners who worked on a farm, a coal mine, a cement factory, a sewing factory and other facilities there.
Camp 14 is also a “total control zone” prison, the harshest category for such facilities in North Korea. Inmates of these prisons are not allowed out of the camp for their entire lives.
His story is horrendous and quite impossible for most of us living our comfortable lives to imagine. In particular, indoctrination can do the vilest things to people.
When he was 13, something happened to his brother that prompted him and his mother to plan to break out of the camp. Shin happened to overhear their plot, and he knew that he would be shot if he did not alert the prison wardens. So he did.
His mother and brother were executed in front of Shin and his father.
“Back then, I believed that tipping them off was the right thing to do,” Shin said. “Otherwise, I would have been killed.”
After escaping from North Korea, however, he fully realized the consequences of his action. He says he is still in agony over the decision.