My editor at the American Daily Herald, Dennis Behreandt, recently suggested I consider branching out from essay composition and try my hand at a book review to stretch my writing abilities. I thought that a good idea and we agreed that the recent Escape from Camp 14 was a suitable subject. It chronicles the life of one man, Shin Dong-hyuk, to date the only person known to have escaped one of the DPRK’s ‘total-control zone’ grade internment camps, and we thought his story as related by journalist Blaine Harden would be interesting to readers.
We’ve all seen any number of accounts about courageous individuals finding their way out of totalitarian regimes, but apart from being another dreadful tale of the North Korean government’s human rights abuses, examples of absurd dehumanizing Marxist class hysteria in action, and arbitrary and capricious mutilations and killings, I found a valuable lesson about how massive government intervention can pervert and distort every facet of human life. From a free marketer’s perspective, North Korea is a laboratory for demonstrating the very antithesis of a truly free market from every angle, its scope covering international relations all the way down to day-to-day interpersonal interactions.
It’s also a chilling cautionary tale, and I think you’ll agree that the parallels between the paranoid secrecy of a closed security state like North Korea and our own post-9/11 America are frighteningly similar…and they’re growing closer with each passing week as unconstitutional, authoritarian laws continue to pour from Washington in a torrent.
Welcome to Hell.
Escape from Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West, reviewed by Glenn Horowitz