Born a political prisoner, Shin is one of the few who managed to escape from a brutal prison camp in North Korea and also managed to find his way out of North Korea as well. His story is a remarkable mixture of ingenuity, determination, and luck. He was raised competing for food, even with his own mother. He watched his family being executed and was rewarded for snitching and being loyal to the guards. His upbringing in the camp taught him to lie and steal, oddly giving him some of the skills which actually helped him to escape. Had he had more love and caring in his life, he ironically would not have been tough enough to take the harrowing journey that became his escape. When he was rescued he had to learn to love and trust for the first time in his life. This is the first book I’ve read about North Korea. I am wondering how it compares with others.
The author is a journalist who became interested in Shin’s story and wrote the book using Shin’s own revelations about his life. This was sometimes tricky though, because Shin kept changing his story for various reasons. Harden did do his homework and corroborated details with other accounts to make his book as true and honest as possible. It is a straightforward telling which is easy to read but may be difficult for some to digest: shocking and chilling – hard to look at, but equally hard to look away. These types of stories do need to find their way out.