Haunting documentary on North Korean camps: ‘Camp 14: Total Control Zone’

It might ruin your day, watching this documentary. But I think that you should nevertheless.

It tells the story of Shin Dong-hyuk, a North Korean who was born inside concentration camp 14. His father had gotten his mother as reward for good labour. Interviewing Shin and two former guards who defected to the South, the film makers show you the world of horror. An artist draws the scenes described.

Shin is a famous defector, because he was born in the concentration camp and managed to escape a total control zone. His tragic story adds to this: in his youth he told the camp leaders that his mother and brother might be planning an escape. After months of torture in prison he had to watch their public execution.

There are so many things from this documentary I would like to share that I can only recommend you to watch it fully. But I would like to draw your attention to several things:

See how meticulously dressed the guards are and compare it to Shin, who does not sit on a chair as he tells his story, but on the floor of his apartment, which he kept empty to remind him of the home he used to share with his mother.

Notice the grin of one of the guards after he describes the position of absolute power he held over his inmates.

“The public executions in the camp weren’t restricted to adult inmates. That could happen to children too.”

“I hadn’t learned that you are supposed to cry when your mother is executed.”

This is not a horror from the past. This is happening right now as we speak.

Read the review of the Guardian for some more context of this movie. You can buy the German DVD already on Amazon, for the English version you will have to wait until 28 October.

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