I discovered three kernels of corn in a small pile of cow dung, picked them up
and cleaned them with my sleeve before eating," says Shin In-kun at www.northkoreanrefugees.com. "As
miserable as it may seem, that was my lucky day."
You may be
asking yourself in what twisted world could that revolting story be considered a
lucky day? Welcome to North Korea.
born in 1982 in a North Korean prison camp. Growing up in this misery, he knew
almost nothing of the outside world. He barely met his father and his brother.
Though he lived with his mother for 12 years in the camp, she was worked from
5:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. every day, so Shin hardly had any significant
relationship with her.
At the age
of 12, Shin was separated from his mother and put to work in the concentration
camp. This was not your typical summer job at the local shopping mall. It was
the type of work where it wasn't uncommon for Shin to see four to five children
killed in a day.
discovered during a torture session to which he was subjected that the reason he
and his family were in the concentration camp was that some of his ancestors had
helped the South Korean government in the Korean War. It didn't matter that the
war occurred decades before Shin was even born. He had to be punished for the
sins of his family.
particular session, Shin was being tortured because his mother and brother tried
to escape the camp, something of which Shin knew nothing. Nonetheless, Shin was
tied up and chained to the ceiling with a flame lit beneath him. In other words,
he was being roasted alive. Later, after Shin slowly recovered, he was taken to
watch his brother and mother be publicly executed.
learning about the outside world from a new inmate to the camp, Shin was
awakened to a new reality. For the first time in his life, he realized that not
everyone lived the way he did. So in 2005, while sent to collect fire wood on a
mountain, Shin miraculously found an opening and escaped. Ultimately, he made it
to South Korea by way of China. This was no easy journey in itself.
story reflects the horrid life in North Korean concentration camps. Those who
reside in these camps often have committed no real crime themselves. Rather,
they are paying for the "crime" of an ancestor.
world outside these concentration camps is not dramatically better than the
world inside them. North Korea is a prison state. Its population is subjected to
the twisted universe of Kim Jong Il. The "Dear Leader" indoctrinates his
population to believe that their country is a paradise and that he is, at
various times, "the God of the Contemporary World," "the Saint of all Saints"
and a deity whose "love and trust in the popular masses are so absolute as to
have no condition whatsoever and so broad as to have no limit."
A famine in
the mid-1990s brought about by idiotic management of the North Korean economy
may have killed as many as 3 million people, or about 15 percent of the North
Korean population. As Jasper Becker writes in his book Rouge Regime, "a
death toll of 3 million would mean more victims than in Pol Pot's Cambodia . . .
if 15 percent of [North Korea's] population died, then the death toll, in
proportion to the country, surpasses any comparable disaster in the 20th
little question that the responsibility for this disaster lies with the sadistic
"Saint of all Saints" who runs the country. His economic policy defies logic as
much as his cruel inhumanity defies simple decency.
much of the psyche of Kim Jong Il is cloaked in mystery, it is clear that he is,
at the very least, an eccentric man in addition to an evil one. He loves movies
so much that he had a South Korean director and his actress wife kidnapped and
brought to North Korea. He is infatuated with Daffy Duck cartoons. And he has a
passion for encouraging murder.
book, Becker quotes a concentration camp guard who escaped North Korea as
saying: "They trained me not to treat the prisoners as human beings. If someone
is against socialism, if someone tries to escape the prison, then kill him . . .
If there's a record of killing any escapee then the guard will be entitled to
study in college."
If it is
possible to approximate hell on earth, surely North Korea is making a good go at
Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky has written that "the international community
should never trust a state more than it trusts its own people." If this is a
proper standard, then one should not expect any good to come from our
current "breakthrough" with Kim Jong Il's hellish regime.