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I've been a journalist for 32 years,
and I'm going to tell you about the saddest story that I've ever heard.
Inside Camp 14, 13-year-old inmate named Shin Dong-hyuk
betrayed his family.
It was late at night, he was supposed to be asleep
but he heard his mother and brother
talking about a plan to escape from the camp.
The rules of Camp 14 are clear.
If you try to escape, you'll be shot.
If you hear someone talking about escape
and you fail to report it, you'll be shot.
Shin got out of bed, told his mother he had to pee
walked outside and found a guard.
While he was snitching, he asked for more food
and easier work.
About seven months later --
about seven months later,
he was taken to the execution grounds in the camp.
A place that he'd gone to twice a year
ever since he was five years old.
There, the entire camp was assembled.
There were about 20,000 people in Camp 14 at the time.
He was taken to the front, and he witnessed
the shooting death of his brother, and the hanging of his mother.
Before his mother died, she tried to catch his eye.
He refused to look at her.
For the next 10 years, he felt no guilt
for his role in the death of his brother and mother.
In concentration camps survivor stories,
there is a conventional narrative arc.
The protagonist is taken away by security forces
from a comfortable home and a loving family.
The most famous of these stories, I'm sure most of you've read
is by Elie Wiesel, it's called "Night."
In the book, he writes that, after his entire family perished
in the Nazi death camps, he was alone.
Terribly alone. In a world without man,
without God, without love, without mercy.
Shin's story is even darker.
Words like love, mercy, family --
for him had no meaning at all.
God did not disappear or die. Shin had never heard of him.
In "Night," Wiesel writes
that an adolescent's knowledge of evil should come from reading books.
In Camp 14,
Shin saw only one book, a Korean grammar
in the hands of his teacher. A man who wore a uniform,
had a gun on his hip, and who beat one of Shin's classmates
to death with a chalkboard pointer.
Shin did not abandon
civilization and descend into hell.
Uniquely among all the concentration camp survivors
we know, he was born there. He accepted its rules.
He regarded it as home.
In a very real way, Shin was a creation
of the guards in Camp 14. They were quite literally his breeders.
They chose his parents, who were young adults in the camp
and they ordered them to have sex.
He was raised mostly by the guards. He had a very bad relationship with his mother.
But he was raised by the guards,
to snitch on his parents, and to snitch on his friends.
It was a long playing behavioral experiment
run by the security apparatus of North Korea.
And, it continues to this day. The rules are very simple.
The more you snitched, the more you ate.
Let me ask you, how many of you knew
before I started talking, that there are concentration camps in North Korea?
That's good.
Well, there are about six of them. Between four and six.
135,000 to 200,000 people are in them right now.
Half of them are the relatives
of perceived political enemies of the state.
The relatives.
The way justice works in North Korea, there's collective punishment.
If I were to say that the leaders were stupid and corrupt
my kids and my parents would go with me to a camp
like Camp 14, and eating a diet of corn, cabbage and salt, we would all be worked to death.
These camps have existed for half a century.
They're clearly visible on Google Earth, you can see them on your Smartphone.
North Korea continues to deny,
officially deny that they exist.
North Korea didn't invent these camps.
They were invented in this form by Stalin.
But, when Stalin died in the former Soviet Union,
the camps died out too.
In North Korea however, the camps have survived the death of founding dictator,
they've survived the death of his son,
and they're thriving now with the third generation
of totalitarian leadership, Kim Jong Un.
Who's about 28, 29 years old. Coincidentally, he happens to be
about the same age as Shin.
But you can see from this slide the camps have existed
twice as long as the camps in the Soviet Union,
about 12 times as long as the camps in Hitler's Germany.
And the reason North Korea seems to have lost none of its appetite
for being cruel to its own people.
They're just as cruel now as they were 50 years ago.
The camps are operated in almost exactly the same way.
Shin's story is the case study in that cruelty.
He's the only person,
the only person so far, born and raised in those camps
to get out and tell the story.
But, his story is more than just a tale of state-sponsored sadism.
It is an escape adventure, and it's a story about the resilience
of the human spirit.
The guards in Camp 14 spent 23 years trying to turn Shin
into a blinkard, malleable slave and they failed.
They failed because he was very lucky when he was 23.
A newcomer came to the camp, and this was an individual who had been raised in Pyongyang.
A member of the elite. He'd been educated in the former Soviet Union.
Shin's job, was to teach Park, that was the guy's name,
how to fix sewing machines in the uniform factory.
Shin was also supposed to snitch on Park, to find out what he thought
about the leadership, and then report to his superior.
For the first time in his life, though, instead of snitching
Shin listened to what Park had to say.
Park told him -- broke the news to him
that the world was round, which was news to Shin.
He told him that the United States,
South Korea and China existed.
But, he also said, and this is what got Shin's interest --
He said, "If you get out of here, if you get out of this camp,
and went to China, you could eat grilled meat".
That's what interested Shin. (Laughter)
He started dreaming about grilled meat.
Within a few weeks he asked Shin --
Shin asked Park to escape together.
Park agreed.
On January 2nd, 2005
they went for the fence. The electric fence.
The electrified fence that surrounds the camp.
Shin was supposed to be the Mr Inside Guy in this escape attempt.
He was supposed to get to the fence first, then Park having more knowledge
of the outside world, would lead them to China.
Unfortunately, as they ran towards the fence, on a snowy cold evening up in the mountains,
Shin slipped and fell on his face
and Park got to the fence first.
He was electrocuted on the fence. Shin did not hesitate, though.
He crawled over Park's smoldering body and ran off.
The Mr. Outside Guy on that escape attempt
unfortunately was dead on the fence.
But Shin still, through a combination of luck,
keeping his mouth shut, and being shrewd, he found his way out of North Corea in 30 days.
In a year-and-a-half he'd found his way across China
and found his way to South Korea.
Two years later he was living in Southern California.
Eating at In-and-Out Burger, which he still says it's the best burger in the US.
And he was working for LiNK, 'Liberty in North Korea'
as a Human Rights volunteer.
But, he's not been a very happy person outside the camp.
He's struggling to understand what it means to be free.
He says that he's physically outside, but not psychologically outside barbed wire.
One of the things he told me is
that he's evolving from being an animal into trying to be a human being.
But it's going very, very slowly.
Very slowly. He still has dreams
about his mother's death.
What's terrifying though is that Shin's story is not an isolated tale of horror.
The two other big adjustment problems that are going on, or that will soon go on.
There are 24,000 North Koreans now living in South Korea.
Almost all of them have come there in the past 12 years.
Almost all of them have been examined by government psychiatrists and psychologists
in South Korea who say that, virtually all of them are clinically paranoid,
a useful adjustment for life in North Korea, a place that crawls with security agents
but they have a very difficult time adapting to modern life.
They have a hard time distinguishing between criticism and betrayal.
And, there are 24 million people in North Korea who, if that state ever collapses
will have to go through the same adjustment problems.
And no one is thinking that North Korea is on the verge of collapse,
but totalitarian systems don't last forever.
And, someday, all of those people will have to go through a version
of what Shin has gone through.
Now, the reason Shin told me his awful story
was because he wants you to know
that these camps are still in operation.
They're still breeding children. They're still teaching them to betray their parents.
He doesn't believe that knowing about this is going to overthrow North Korea.
But, he went through the humiliation of telling me his story
and he's traveling the world talking about it,
because he believes that knowledge is better than ignorance.
Thank you very much.



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Lim Chun Aun 2014 年 7 月 13 日 に公開
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