Camp 14 Summary

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Theme 1: Family– In North Korean concentration camps and North Korea in general, there was no concept of “family”. Shin was born and raised in the concentration camp, and he did not have a loving or caring relationship with his mother, father, or brother. Shin even saw his mother as another competitor, and he rarely spoke or interacted with his brother. “When he was in the camp–depending on her [his mother] for all his meals, stealing her meals, enduring her beatings–he saw her as a competition for survival,” (16). Outside of the camps, North Koreans also turned in whoever spoke out or went against the leaders of the country, and their rule, even if it was their family members. This also happened inside the camps, and it is what Shin did to…show more content…
Prisoners were not meant to survive, as they were starving, malnourished, and tortured by the guards. Some inmates ate rats, insects, ferns, wild berries, and mushrooms, which could have had them severely punished if they were caught. Shin was not an exception to the other prisoners, and ate whatever he could, whenever he could. In addition to the wild plants and animals Shin ate, he also stole his mother’s lunch which resulted in her beating him (but he still continuously did it). “Catching and roasting rats became a passion for Shin… Shin peeled away their skin, scraped away their innards, salted what was left, and chewed the rest– flesh, bones, and tiny feet,” (21). Shin and the other prisoners in Camp 14, ate whatever they could find in the camp, to ensure they would live just a little…show more content…
The survivors have no compassion in general and for other people. Shin was born and raised in the camp, so his thoughts were created based on what the government guards taught him. After living in the camp for all his life, he finally was free, but his way of thinking or how he acted could not be changed. Shin was still haunted by the nightmares of his mother and brother’s execution as he was “evolving from being an animal”, as well as having other symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. “...he mentioned a ‘dead space’ inside him, which he said made it difficult for him to feel much of anything. Sometimes he pretended to be happy, he said to see how other people reacted to him. Often he did not make any effort,” (179-180). Shin’s life in the camp was completely different than his new life in the United States, which confused him and others, but he was trying to sort out his
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