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Published on Jul 31, 2012
This powerful documentary employs intimate interviews and animated recreations to tell the story of Shin Dong-hyuk, whose dramatic escape from the North Korean labour camp where he had spent the first two decades of his life launched him into an outside world he had never known. Note
Live Skype introduction and Q&A with director Marc Wiese on Wednesday, February 27 at 6:30pm
Official Selection, Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival 2012
Official Selection, Toronto International Film Festival 2012
Born inside a North Korean prison camp as the child of political prisoners, Shin Dong-hyuk was raised in a world where all he knew was punishment, torture and abuse beyond imagination. After more than two decades of imprisonment, Shin escaped the camp in 2005 and subsequently became something of an international celebrity, touring Europe and North America to tell his story to human rights conferences and activist groups — but life on the outside proved to have its own challenges. Weaving intimate interviews with Shin together with anecdotes from a former camp guard and a member of the secret police, and interspersing them with brilliant animated sequences depicting key moments in Shin's life, Marc Wiese's fascinating documentary Camp 14: Total Control Zone is both a powerful story of survival and an evocative character study, showing the feelings of guilt, anger, remorse and complicity that are shared between both abused and abusers.
North Korea operates a network of political prison camps known as gwa-li-so, a word that strikes fear in North Koreans who know that the brutal forced labour, near-starvation rations, and abuse by prison guards means that being sent there is akin to a death sentence. With research based on testimonies of Shin and others who have managed to flee the country, Human Rights Watch is campaigning to establish a United Nations commission of inquiry to investigate crimes against humanity taking place in the gwa-li-so and other detention centres in the country.
For more information, visit hrw.org/asia/north-korea