Archive for north korea

North Korea’s Death Knell

Posted in uncategorized with tags , , , , on December 28, 2018 by andelino

North Korea shattered any illusions that may still linger in Seoul and Washington about the reclusive state’s willingness to negotiate away its nuclear deterrent.

It did so by defining exactly what it means by “denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” – the mission-critical phrase that was at the heart of the June Singapore Summit Declaration signed by Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump.

While North Korea’s rhetoric is frequently explosive, the bombshell announcement from the Korea Central New Agency – an outlet frequently used to send regime messages to the global community – was couched in plain writing which leaves little leeway for misinterpretation.

Make no mistake: “This is serious. It is not a simple disagreement over nomenclature. It makes starkly clear a divergence of opinion not only over what denuclearization is, but to whom it applies.”

The statement reads, in part: “The United States must now recognize the accurate meaning of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and especially, must study geography. When we talk about the Korean Peninsula, it includes the territory of our republic and also the entire region of [South Korea] where the United States has placed its invasive force, including nuclear weapons. When we talk about the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, it means the removal of all sources of nuclear threat, not only from the South and North but also from areas neighboring the Korean Peninsula.”

Thus far, the Trump administration has seen fit to believe that “denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula”  – a term the North has been using for years – encompasses the preferred US definition of “complete, verifiable, irreversible dismantlement”(CVID).

In fact – as weary experts have been warning all year – it means very nearly the opposite.

As per the statement, “It would be proper to say that the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula means ‘completely removing the nuclear threats of the US to the DPRK,’” – the latter being the acronym for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

What “nuclear threats” might those be? The 28,500 US troops in South Korea (who, in fact, sent home their tactical nuclear weapons in 1991, but could easily repossess and deploy them). US troops in Japan and US naval assets – such as missile-armed submarines and surface ships, as well as aircraft carriers with embarked air wings capable of carrying nuclear weapons – that patrol the East China Sea and the Sea of Japan.

It almost certainly includes strategic bombers in Guam, and may extend even to the Minuteman II and III ICBM force on the US mainland.

In short, it is talking about the US nuclear umbrella in the Pacific. The chances of the United States accepting the North’s demands on this are precisely zero – not least because it is not just South Korea, but also Japan, which falls under the US atomic aegis.

The message comes amid frozen dialogue between Pyongyang and Washington. North Korean nuclear negotiator Kim Yong Chol and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have made virtually zero progress on advancing denuclearization in the months following the Singapore summit.

Today, the US Special Envoy to North Korea Stephen Biegun visited the DMZ (demilitarized zone) to get his closest ever look at North Korea – a nation into whose soil he has never set foot, and with whose envoys he has never met. Pathetically, the would-be US peacemaker has got no closer to North Korea than any Seoul tourist on a half-day DMZ tour.

Pyongyang’s message should shake Seoul – clinging, hope against hope, to a belief that the North really is willing to negotiate away its “treasure sword” – to the core.

And it should serve notice to Washington that the intractable problem of North Korea is today no more tractable than it was under previous administrations.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in deserves kudos: “He has tried as hard as any man could to bring Pyongyang and Washington to an agreement. But the dice were loaded from the start.”

He has been widely accused of wishful thinking and spin doctoring in his enthusiastic courting of Pyongyang. Now, his credibility as a viable intermediary must be in question. In 2019, he may no longer be able to play the in-between game; he may have to make an either-or decision.

Will he fall firmly into lock step with an often overbearing and self-interested nation that is, however, the only actual ally his country has on the world scene, and one that has proven largely trustworthy for over half a century? Or will he climb fully into bed with the charming but ruthless head of a dictatorship which is, nevertheless, a brother nation, but whose trustworthiness is highly questionable?

Much depends on Trump. His mooted but still unconfirmed second summit with Kim next year has now fallen further into shadow.

The US president may continue with his blasé approach to Pyongyang – happy to keep North Korea at the back of his mind given that there are no nuclear devices being detonated and no test missiles soaring through the stratosphere over Japan, and given, also, how well he apparently gets along with Kim on a personal level.

This is what Pyongyang has long sought: “acceptance as a de facto nuclear power.”

Alternatively, Trump may concede what so, so many have warned against: “That he has been humbugged from the start by a wily counterpart who never had any sincere intention of denuclearizing.”

The question in that case is what Trump’s “Plan B” consists of. Given the colossal risk and likely ineffectiveness of any military option beyond full-scale invasion, the likeliest approach would be to deploy the full might of the US Treasury and implement secondary sanctions, without mercy, on any person or entity engaged in or with the North.

Even given the currently icy state of relations between Pyongyang and Washington, it is difficult to understand why Kim fired this shot at this time. Is he hoping to light a fire that will thaw the frosty relations? If so, it seems a miscalculation: “Washington has now been informed that denuclearization talks include American, as well as North Korean assets.”

Still, viewing the situation exclusively through the prism of diplomacy, one can feel some sympathy for Kim. After all, the June Summit Declaration outlined four steps, of which denuclearization was just one.

The United States and the DPRK commit to establish new US–DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity and will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.

Reaffirming the April 27, 2018, Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.

North Korea has made some efforts (albeit unverified and reversible ones) on the denuclearization front, such as blowing up entrances to an underground nuclear test site and partly dismantling a missile engine test facility. It has also sent, in good faith, some 50 sets of Korean War remains to the US.

The United States has delivered little in return, beyond halting military exercises. It has not eased sanctions or offered any kind of formal relations. It has also ignored noises from both Seoul and Pyongyang to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War.

Moreover, Washington has also demanded that North Korea denuclearize before it can be granted any benefits. This highly unusual stance puts the desired end result (ie denuclearization) ahead of any quid pro quo (ie the heart of virtually any negotiation).

And more broadly, of course, the US possesses a nuclear force that is far, far larger than anything North Korea could dream of owning.

Viewing the situation though any other prism, however, it is difficult to feel sympathy for Kim.

He draws his legitimacy from a grandfather who unleashed a war that killed millions but which he deflected responsibility for; and from his father, whose inability or refusal to reform resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of his subjects from famine.

He presides over a paranoid, nationalistic, militarized state where weaponry takes priority over public nutrition and public health, and where a rigid class system prevails, and where the rights to freedom of assembly, speech and travel are non-existent. The state security apparatus is vast, nobody dares criticize the leadership and tens of thousands suffer in political prison camps.

Kim, who by all accounts not only enjoys a life of privilege but who wallows in luxury, has proven personally ruthless, ordering the execution of an uncle and likely ordering the assassination of a half-brother.

This is the man whose nuclear deterrent – widely seen as a prop for his own regime – is challenging the uneasy agreements that underwrite the global nuclear non-proliferation regime.

Given all this, North Korea has no supporters in international society beyond Russia and China – and China might better be classified as a “frenemy” than a friend. Even Moon, keener than any other South Korean leader to extend an olive branch to Kim, cannot overlook the harsh realities of the North Korean state.

Many were expecting 2019 to be the make-or-break year for denuclearization. This announcement indicates that the likelihood lies in ruins before the new year even begins.

NK H-Bomb Secrets

Posted in uncategorized with tags , , , , on September 7, 2017 by andelino

Nations around the world “panic!”

Speculation of an imminent North Korea “global inferno” mounts as Kim Jong-un inspects his new “doomsday” H-bomb.

Here are exclusive “photos and detailed drawings” of the North Korean dictator’s newest weapon.

The truth is now “revealed” for the first time!

President Trump, on his part, has “discovered” the same secret design “drawing” in Russian.

Do I have to repeat it?

RUSSIAN! As in “Russian hackers” or “Russian collusion” or “Russian hand puppet.”


The link is clear; only the “blind or the brainwashed” cannot connect the dots here.

Can we talk about “Trump-North Korea” collusion now?

How long can the people be silent?

And now the “plot” thickens!

Remember, Kim Jong-un said “I will insinkerate America!” 

North Korea Endorsing Trump

Posted in uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on June 5, 2016 by andelino

North Korea Endorsing Trump 05

North Korea’s “dictator” Kim Jong-un, Chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea and supreme leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, is endorsing presumptive U.S. Republican nominee Donald Trump “a prescient presidential candidate who can liberate Americans living under daily fear of nuclear attack by the North.”

North Korea Endorsing Trump 07

A column carried by “DPRK Today,” one of the “reclusive and dynastic state’s mouthpieces,” described Trump as a “wise politician” and the right choice for U.S. voters in the Nov. 8 U.S. presidential election.

It described his most likely Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, as “thick-headed Hillary” over her proposal to apply the “Iran” model of wide sanctions to resolve the “nuclear weapons” issue on the Korean peninsula.

North Korea Endorsing Trump 08

Trump said he was “prepared” to talk to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to try to “stop” Pyongyang’s “nuclear” program, and that China should also “help solve the problem.”

North Korea Endorsing Trump 04

North Korea, known officially as the “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” (DPRK), is under U.N. sanctions over its “past” nuclear tests. South Korea and the United States say calls for “dialogues” are meaningless until NK takes steps to “end” its nuclear ambitions.

“DPRK Today” also said Trump’s suggestion that the United States should “pull” its troops from South Korea until Seoul “pays” more was the way to “achieve” Korean unification.

North Korea Endorsing Trump 02

“It turns out that Trump is not the rough-talking, screwy, ignorant candidate they say he is, but is actually a wise politician and a prescient presidential candidate,” said the column, written by a China-based Korean scholar “identified” as Han Yong Muk.

“Promising to resolve issues on the Korean peninsula through negotiations and not war was the best option for America,” instead “living every minute and second on pins and needles in fear of a nuclear strike” by North Korea.

The North has for years called for the “withdrawal” of U.S. troops from the South as the first step toward “peace” on the Korean peninsula and demanded Washington sign a “peace treaty” to replace the “truce” that ended the 1950-53 Korean War.

Its frequently “strident” rhetoric also often threatens nuclear strikes against the United States and South Korea.

After the momentous “news” was delivered to President Barack Obama he immediately called a “press conference” in the White House Rose Garden.

“I am perfectly okay with North Korea threatening its neighbors and testing nuclear weapons. But North Korea has finally crossed a red line by endorsing Donald Trump.”

Trying to “trash” Trump in a “stuttering” mess he said “We don’t need North Korean counterfeit Okey-Doke that is of inferior quality. We will use our own, superior, American-made Okey-Doke, because that’s who we are!”

North Korea Endorsing Trump 03

Obama next called upon Congress to “impose” new sanctions on North Korea up to and including “carpet-bombing Pyongyang” until the rogue nation “endorses Hillary Clinton like the rest of the civilized world.”

The President is expected to get “bipartisan” support from “Senate Democrats” and many “#NeverTrump” Republicans.

North Korea Endorsing Trump 01

Surprisingly, Obama also has the “full support” of China who joined in the call for the imposition of “harsh sanctions” on its neighbor to the south.

“We have bought the Clintons with millions of dollars of illegal campaign contributions,” said Wang Yi, the foreign minister of China.

“And we have that juicy stuff we hacked off of Hillary’s email server. We own the Clinton’s and we will not stand idly by and see all that go to waste with a Trump presidency.”

North Korea Endorsing Trump 00

The “Leader of the Free World” then unfurled his “legendary” finger nodding in “approval” of China’s response.

100% Voter Turnout

Posted in uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on March 16, 2014 by andelino
Kim Jong Un 03

Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un

North Koreans went to the “polls” to approve the new roster of “deputies” for the Supreme People’s Assembly, the country’s legislature.

The vote, more a “political ritual” than an election by Western standards, is generally held “once every five years.’

With “no one else on the ballot” state media reported that supreme leader Kim Jong-un was not only “elected” to the highest legislative body in North Korea, he won with the “unanimous approval”of his district, which had a 100% turnout.

Though results for the other “seats in the assembly” had not yet been announced, North Korea’s media quickly reported Kim had “won in his district,”  located on the symbolic Mount Paekdu, “without a single dissenting ballot.”

Kim Jong Un 01

A woman receives a ballot to vote to elect deputies to the 13th Supreme People’s Assembly in Pyongyang, North Korea.

In previous elections, 687 deputies were chosen. This is first time the election had been held since Kim “inherited” power after the “death” of his father, Kim Jong-il, in 2011.

Considering his father once scored 11 holes in one in a single round of golf, was born from a double rainbow, and never shat, I’d say winning the election by a margin of “100% “is pretty reasonable.

“This is an expression of all the service personnel and people’s absolute support and profound trust in supreme leader Kim Jong-un as they single-mindedly remain loyal to him,” the state-run Korean Central News Agency said.

Kim Jong Un 04

Voters in the election had “no choice” who to vote for. There was only “one” candidate’s name on the ballot for “each” district.

Voters had the choice of voting “yes or no”, and according to official accounts, virtually “all choose yes.” North Korea also typically puts “turnout” nationwide at over 99%.

A “voter option guide” was distributed prior to the vote. Showing up at the polls with a “bad attitude” would get you 40 years in prison if you “live” that long. Trying to vote for “someone” other than Kim Jong-un, the ballot would be “destroyed” and the voter face the “firing squad” in the morning.

Any ballots handed out was “solely” to be for Kim Jong-un, as the “merciful” Leader of NK will not allow anybody going to prison for a “silly voting mistake.”

I heard the Democratic National Committee (DNC) is planning such a voter guide for the next American elections.

Analysts will be “closely” watching to see if the deputies this time around reflect a “generational” change as Kim looks to “solidify” his power and replace “older cadres” with younger, “more loyal” ones.

Kim Jong Un 05

The “new” parliament was expected to meet next month. No date has been “officially” announced.

In this “devastating” counter punch to all North Korean “haters”, Kim Jong-un has won an “unparalleled” victory which gives him an “undisputed” mandate to fundamentally “transform” his country into an even more “democratic” people’s republic.

In the United States, the Democratic Party leadership, its party organs, and the Obama voting precincts all around America have “congratulated”  Kim Jong-un on achieving the same results as they did in the “2012 presidential election” of President Obama with a “100% vote and a 100% turnout,” accompanied by assurances of “international solidarity” of all voters worldwide.

This clarifies what the phrase “We are the 99%” really means. But that was last year. Today, being “99%” is no longer an option. 

We must strive to “eliminate” the remaining 1% and become the 100%, like in North Korea!

Actually, many national “voting districts” in our own 2012 elections had “more than” 100% voter turnout and votes for Obama in his home town of Chicago “boasted” a 500% turnout.

chicago-even-the-dead-can-vote

Not even “death” deters the Chicago voter! “Eat that, North Korea!”

Obviously what’s holding Kim Jong-un back from “equaling” President Obama’s “fait accompli” is that Kim Jong-un doesn’t let his dead people “vote” after they’re “eaten” by dogs!

Kim Jong Un 02

Let me put it bluntly. What kind of “equality” is that?

Even tearful, self-appointed “Ambassador” to North Korea and “lifelong friend” of  Kim Jong-un, Dennis Rodman has vowed never to return to North Korea after he saw the North Korea “documentary” how Americans live today.

How quickly “loyalty” and “friendship” fade these days…

Boycott Energy

Posted in uncategorized with tags , , , , , on March 16, 2014 by andelino

Boycott Energy 04It is obvious that all forms of “energy” we use is “destructive” to the environment.

We can take a “lesson” from our North Korean brothers.

They have been living a “green energy” free lifestyle for 17 years now.

No cars, no electricity, no heat, the whole country is an “energy free” green zone.

We must look to them as an “example” of what can be accomplished with the “right” leadership and “determination” in the glorious effort to “save the planet!”

Boycott Energy 01

It is therefore time to “join” with them in environmental “solidarity” and stop using all forms of “energy” now!

Not only that, but by “discarding” your energy “sucking” devices like iPods, phones, computers, and cars, you are sending a “signal” to the industrial bourgeoisie that their “reign of capitalist exploitation” is over!

Moreover, by reducing your “carbon footprint” to zero, you can do your part in eliminating harmful “greenhouse gases” that cause global warming.

Boycott Energy 02

As can be “clearly” seen in this photo from space, while the rest of the world is markedly “racist”, North Korea is “pure” African American black.

Climate Change in North Korea stopped seventeen years ago! Clearly, they are showing us the way.

While North Korea’s energy conscious environmentalism is to be applauded, the United States is obviously to blame for being the world’s primary “energy consuming” nation (see small inset).

Let’s join all together and “fight” climate change! Participate in the “noble” crusade against “carbon emissions” by not breathing for a “full” six minutes!

Whether  you “asphyxiate or freeze” to death this winter, take “joy” in your achievement that you “died” doing your glorious “duty” to the planet.

Boycott Energy 03

As Climate Change continues its “hideous” worldwide devastation, a woman points at the effects of “Global Warming” at Niagara Falls.

Just Wants Love

Posted in uncategorized with tags , , , on April 30, 2013 by andelino
Lil Kim

Lil’ Kim Jong-un just wants to be loved

According to Dennis Rodman Lil’ Kim Jong-un “just wants” to be loved.

Despite North Korea’s threats of launching a nuclear missile somewhere between South Korea, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., former eccentric, NBA washed up “has been” Rodman says he will return to North Korea in August to visit his best “forever” friend in August.

“I’m going back August 1,” Rodman told Gossip Extra when he attended a charity gala in Miami Beach.

“We have no plans really, as far as what we’re going to do over there, but we’ll just hang and have some fun!”

Rodman said that his “dictator” beastie is “misunderstood” and dismissed North Korea’s threats.

“He just wants to be loved. He just wants to sit down and talk. That’s all.”

Dennis Rodman

Dennis “The Worm” Rodman

The “Worm” is clinging to the “hope” that he will get the chance to “meet” Obama before he goes “back” to the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea, but quipped that it is most  “unlikely,” according to Gossip Extra.

More than 700 guests attended the yearly fundraising “fiesta” at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach.

It was organized by criminal defense attorney Roy Black and his wife Lea, one of the stars of The Real Housewives of Miami.”

Roy Black introduced Rodman to the guests as “the U. S. ambassador to North Korea.”

“The good thing about Dennis being here is that it makes us pretty sure this city will not be bombed by North Korea tonight,” Roy Black said.

Dennis with transvestite Elaine Lancaster

Dennis with transvestite Elaine Lancaster

The strange “tale” of Dennis Rodman’s “adventure” to North Korea just keeps “getting” weirder.

After a “short” stay in the Communist country in February, where he was “filming” a documentary for HBO, Rodman told the Miami Herald he’s been “approached” by the FBI to work as an “informant” on North Korean activity.

While in North Korea, Rodman called Kim Jong-un “a friend for life.” “I’m not a total idiot,” Rodman said. “I know what Kim Jong-un is threatening to do regarding his military muscle.

I hope it doesn’t happen because America will take whatever actions to protect America and our allies.”

So what can Rodman as a “political consultant” do to help?

“I do think, you know, that we have to talk to people who want to cause us harm so hopefully they won’t,” he said.

“I’ve been talking to folks for years who don’t get what I’m about but that’s cool, because once they walk away they like me.

I might be able to keep folks’ heads cool. We all going to find a way to get along and keep peace. Peace and love is where it is at.”

NK Concentration Camps

If Rodman wants to have “fun, talk and peace” he should spend some time as an “inmate” in one of the NK “concentration” camps.

NK Starving Children

Or, perhaps he can “watch” NK women and children “starving” to death on the streets while his best “friend for life” feasts on sumptuous “spreads” during his visits.

NK Sumptuous Spreads

I cannot figure out what this “moron” must be thinking to go spend time with that “midget” guy who runs a government that has “culled” 10% of its population through starvation, where “desperate” people resort to cannibalism” to stay alive.

Does he feel NO obligation to “understand” that North Koreans live without “basic human” rights?

Does he really “fail” to understand that he is being “used” as a pawn?

Has he NO “concern” for how his “actions” will play out in the “lives” of the average North Korean?

Maybe this time the “worm” won’t come back.  How nice for America that would be.  One less uneducated “scumbag” idiot.

Glorious Missile Hit

Posted in uncategorized with tags , , , , , on April 13, 2012 by andelino

The NPRK Information Minister wishes to announce that the People’s Republic of North Korea advanced the frontiers of Socialist aerospace science by launching a missile into the Pacific Ocean today!

The world watched in awe as the multistage rocket soared over the earth for approximately 165 km before breaking up after 81 glorious seconds into about 325 very small stages as it fell from the sky — exactly as planned.

Kim Jong Un ‘s “Manhattan Project” rocket research team wishes to thank the combined technological contributions of Iran, China, and Russia.

The goal for the next North Korean rocket is to stay in the air for 82 seconds and 166 kilometers. “This is an entirely reachable goal,” said a NPRK spokesperson.

Escape from Camp 14

Posted in uncategorized with tags , , , , , on March 16, 2012 by andelino

How one man escaped from a North Korean prison camp. There was torture, starvation, betrayals and executions, but to Shin In Geun, Camp 14 – a prison for the political enemies of North Korea – was home. Then one day came the chance to flee…

Twenty-six years ago, Shin In Geun was born inside Camp 14, one of five sprawling political prisons in the mountains of North Korea. Located about 55 miles north of Pyongyang, the labor camp is a “complete control district,” a no-exit prison where the only sentence is life. Inmates work 12 to 15-hour days in the camp mining coal, building dams, sewing military uniforms until they are executed, killed in work-related accidents or die of illness that is usually triggered by hunger. No one born in Camp 14 or in any North Korean political prison camp has escaped. No one except Shin. This is his story. A gripping, terrifying memoir with a searing sense of place, “ESCAPE FROM CAMP 14” will unlock, through Shin, a dark and secret nation, taking readers to a place they have never before been allowed to go.

His first memory is an execution. He walked with his mother to a wheat field, where guards had rounded up several thousand prisoners. The boy crawled between legs to the front row, where he saw guards tying a man to a wooden pole.

Shin In Geun was four years old, too young to understand the speech that came before that killing. At dozens of executions in years to come, he would listen to a guard telling the crowd that the prisoner about to die had been offered “redemption” through hard labor, but had rejected the generosity of the North Korean government.

Guards stuffed pebbles into the prisoner’s mouth, covered his head with a hood and shot him. In Camp 14, a prison for the political enemies of North Korea, assemblies of more than two inmates were forbidden, except for executions. Everyone had to attend them.

The South Korean government estimates there are about 154,000 prisoners in North Korea’s labor camps, while the US state department puts the number as high as 200,000. The biggest is 31 miles long and 25 miles wide, an area larger than the city of Los Angeles. Numbers 15 and 18 have re-education zones where detainees receive remedial instruction in the teachings of Kim Jong-il and Kim Il-sung, and are sometimes released. The remaining camps are “complete control districts” where “irredeemable” are worked to death.

Shin’s camp, number 14, is a complete control district. Established around 1959 near Kaechon County in South Pyongan Province, it holds an estimated 15,000 prisoners. About 30 miles long and 15 miles wide, it has farms, mines and factories threaded through steep mountain valleys.

Shin and his mother lived in the best prisoner accommodation the camp had to offer. They had their own room, where they slept on a concrete floor, and they shared a kitchen with four other families. Electricity ran for two hours a day. There were no beds, chairs or tables. No running water.

If Shin’s mother met her daily work quota, she could bring home food. At 4am, she would prepare breakfast and lunch for her son and for herself. Every meal was the same: corn porridge, pickled cabbage and cabbage soup. Shin was always hungry and he would eat his lunch as soon as his mother left for work. He also ate her lunch. When she came back from the fields at midday and found nothing to eat, she would beat him with a shovel.

Her name was Jang Hye Gyung. She never talked to him about her past, her family, or why she was in the camp, and he never asked. His existence as her son had been arranged by the guards. They chose her and the man who became Shin’s father as prizes for each other in a “reward” marriage.

Single men and women slept in dormitories segregated by sex. The eighth rule of Camp 14 said, “Should sexual physical contact occur without prior approval, the perpetrators will be shot immediately.” A reward marriage was the only safe way around the no-sex rule. Guards announced marriages four times a year. If one partner found his or her chosen mate to be unacceptably old, cruel or ugly, guards would sometimes cancel a marriage. If they did, neither the man nor the woman would be allowed to marry again. Shin’s father, Shin Gyung Sub, told Shin that the guards gave him Jang as payment for his skill in operating a metal lathe.

After their marriage, the couple were allowed to sleep together for five consecutive nights. From then on, Shin’s father was permitted to visit Jang a few times a year. Their eldest son, Shin He Geun, was born in 1974. Shin was born eight years later. The brothers barely knew each other. By the time Shin was four, his brother had moved into a dormitory.

The guards taught the children they were prisoners because of the “sins” of their parents but that they could “wash away” their inherent sinfulness by working hard, obeying the guards and informing on their parents.

One day, Shin joined his mother at work, planting rice. When she fell behind, a guard made her kneel in the hot sun with her arms in the air until she passed out. Shin did not know what to say to her, so he said nothing.

On summer nights, boys would sneak into a nearby orchard to eat unripe pears. When they were caught, the guards would beat them. The guards, though, did not care if Shin and his friends ate rats, frogs, snakes and insects. Eating rats was essential to survival. Their flesh could help prevent pellagra, which was rampant, the result of a lack of protein and niacin in their diet. Prisoners with the disease suffered skin lesions, diarrhea and dementia. It was a frequent cause of death. Catching rats became a passion for Shin. He would meet his friends in the evening at his primary school, where there was a coal grill to roast them.

One day in June 1989, Shin’s teacher, a guard who wore a uniform and a pistol on his hip, sprang a surprise search of the six-year-old. When it was over, he held five kernels of corn. They all belonged to a slight girl Shin remembers as exceptionally pretty. The teacher ordered the girl to the front of the class and told her to kneel. Swinging his wooden pointer, he struck her on the head again and again. As Shin and his classmates watched in silence, lumps puffed up on her skull, blood leaked from her nose and she toppled over on to the concrete floor. Shin and his classmates carried her home. Later that night, she died.

On a hillside near Shin’s school, a slogan was posted: “All according to the rules and regulations.” The boy memorized the camp’s 10 rules, and can still recite them by heart. Subsection three of Camp 14’s third rule said, “Anyone who steals or conceals any foodstuffs will be shot immediately.” Shin thought the girl’s punishment was just. The same man continued to teach Shin. In breaks, he allowed students to play rock, paper, scissors. On Saturdays, he would sometimes grant children an hour to pick lice out of each other’s hair. Shin never learned his name.

A satellite image of Camp 14. Photograph: /EPA

Primary school students attended class six days a week. Secondary students attended seven days, with one day off a month. In the winter, the student body (about 1,000 students) was mobilized to clean privies in the village where the guards lived. Shin and his classmates chipped out frozen feces, dumped the waste on racks with their bare hands, then dragged it outside to be used as fertilizer. In summer, students worked in the fields from 4am until dusk, pulling weeds.

Soap was a luxury. Shin’s trousers were stiff from dirt and sweat. When it was too cold to bathe in the river or stand in the rain, Shin, his mother and classmates smelled like farm animals.

Shin went through school with a boy called Hong Sung Jo and a girl called Moon Sung Sim. Shin viewed Hong Sung Jo as his closest companion. They played jacks and their mothers worked at the same farm. Neither boy, though, ever invited the other to his house to play. Trust among friends was poisoned by constant competition. Trying to win extra food rations, children told guards what their neighbors were eating, wearing and saying.

Shin was nine years old, and he and his classmates were walking towards the train station, where their teacher had sent them to pick up coal. To get there they had to pass below the guards’ compound. From above, the guards’ children shouted: “Reactionary sons of bitches are coming.” Rocks rained down on the prison children. Shin and his classmates shrieked and cowered. A rock struck Shin on the head, knocking him to the ground. When his head cleared, many of his classmates were moaning and bleeding. Moon Sung Sim had been knocked out.

When their teacher discovered his bloodied students sprawled in the road, he became angry. “What are you doing not getting yourselves to work?” he shouted. The students timidly asked what they should do with their classmates who were unconscious. “Put them on your backs and carry them,” the teacher instructed.

When Shin and his classmates entered secondary school, they were barely literate. But by then classroom instruction had come to an end. Teachers became foremen. Secondary school was a staging ground for work in mines, fields and forests. At the end of the day, it was a gathering place for long sessions of self-criticism. At night, 25 boys slept on the dormitory floor.

On Friday 5 April 1996, Shin’s teacher told him he could go home and eat supper with his mother as a reward for good behavior. There was a surprise when he got there. His brother, who worked at the camp’s cement factory, had come home, too. Shin’s mother was not delighted when her youngest son showed up. She did not say welcome or that she had missed him. She cooked, using her daily ration of 700 grams of cornmeal to make porridge in the one pot she owned. Shin ate, then went to sleep.

Sometime later, voices from the kitchen woke him. He peeked through the bedroom door. His mother was cooking rice. For Shin, this was a slap in the face. He had been served the same tasteless gruel he had eaten every day of his life. Now his brother was getting rice. Shin guessed she must have stolen it, a few grains at a time. Shin fumed. He also listened. Shin heard that Shin He Geun had not been given the day off. He had walked out without permission. His mother and brother were discussing what they should do.

Escape. Shin was astonished to hear his brother say the word. He did not hear his mother say that she intended to go along. But she was not trying to argue, even though she knew that if he escaped or died trying, she and others in her family would be tortured and probably killed. Every prisoner knew the first rule of Camp 14, subsection 2: “Any witness to an attempted escape who fails to report it will be shot immediately.”

His heart pounded. He was angry that she would put his life at risk for the sake of his brother. He was also jealous that his brother was getting rice. Shin’s camp-bred instincts took over: he had to tell a guard. Shin ran back to school. It was 1am. Who could he tell? In the crowded dormitory, Shin woke his friend Hong Sung Jo. Hong told him to tell the school’s night guard.

“I need to say something to you,” Shin told the guard, “but before I do, I want something in return.” Shin demanded more food and to be named grade leader at school, a position that would allow him to work less and not be beaten as often. The guard agreed, then told Shin and Hong to go back to get some sleep.

On the morning after he betrayed his mother and brother, uniformed men came to the schoolyard for Shin. He was handcuffed, blindfolded and driven in silence to an underground prison.

“Do you know why you are here?” The officer did not know, or did not care, that Shin had been a dutiful informer. “At dawn today, your mother and your brother were caught trying to escape. Were you aware of this fact or not? If you want to live, you should spit out the truth.”

Shin would eventually figure out that the night guard had claimed the credit for discovering the escape plan. But on that morning Shin understood nothing. He was a bewildered 13-year-old. Finally, the officer pushed some papers across his desk. “In that case, bastard, your thumbprint.”

The document was a family rap sheet. The papers explained why his father’s family had been locked up in Camp 14. The unforgivable crime Shin’s father had committed was being the brother of two young men who had fled south during the Korean war. Shin’s crime was being his father’s son.

Shin’s cell was barely large enough for him to lie down. Without windows, he could not distinguish night from day. He was given nothing to eat and could not sleep.

On what seemed to be the morning of the third day, guards wordlessly entered Shin’s cell, shackled his ankles, tied a rope to a hook in the ceiling and hung him upside down. They did not return until evening. On the fourth day, the interrogators wore civilian clothes. Marched from his cell, Shin met them in a dimly lit room. A chain dangled from a winch on the ceiling. Hooks on the walls held a hammer, axe, pliers and clubs. On a table, Shin saw the kind of pincers used for carrying hot metal.

“If you tell the truth right now, I’ll save you,” the chief interrogator said. “If not, I’ll kill you. Understand?”

The chief’s lieutenants pulled off Shin’s clothes and trust him up. When they were finished, his body formed a U, his face and feet toward the ceiling, his bare back toward the floor. The chief interrogator shouted more questions. A tub of burning charcoal was dragged beneath Shin, then the winch lowered towards the flames. Crazed with pain and smelling his burning flesh, Shin twisted away. One of the guards grabbed a hook and pierced the boy in the abdomen, holding him over the fire until he lost consciousness.

Shin awoke in his cell, soiled with excrement and urine. His back was blistered and sticky. The flesh around his ankles had been scraped away. As his burns became infected, he grew feverish and lost his appetite.

Shin guesses it was 10 days before his final interrogation. It took place in his cell because he was too weak to get up. For the first time, he found the words to defend himself. “I was the one who reported this,” he said. “I did a good job.” His interrogators didn’t believe him. He begged them to talk to Hong Sung Jo.

Shin’s fever grew worse and the blisters on his back swelled with pus. His cell smelled so bad, the guards refused to step inside. After several days Shin was carried to another cell. He’d been granted a reprieve. Hong had confirmed his story. Shin would never see the school’s night guard again.

By the standards of Camp 14, Shin’s new cellmate was notably old, somewhere around 50. He refused to explain why he was locked up but he did say he had been there for many years and that he sorely missed the sun. Pallid, leathery skin sagged over his fleshless bones. His name was Kim Jin Myung. He asked to be called “Uncle”. For about two months, Uncle nursed Shin, rubbing salty cabbage soup into his wounds as a disinfectant and massaging Shin’s arms and legs so his muscles would not atrophy. “Kid, you have a lot of days to live,” Uncle said. “They say the sun shines even on mouse holes.”

The old man’s medical skills and caring words kept the boy alive. His fever waned, his mind cleared and his burns congealed into scars. Shin was grateful but he also found it puzzling. He had not trusted his mother to keep him from starving. At school, he had trusted no one and informed on everyone. In return, he expected abuse and betrayal. In the cell, Uncle slowly reconfigured those expectations.

“Uncle, tell me a story,” Shin would say. The old man described what food outside the fence looked, smelled and tasted like. Thanks to his loving descriptions of roasting pork, boiling chicken and eating clams at the seashore, Shin’s appetite came back with a vengeance. Shin guessed he had once been an important and well-educated man.

One day a guard unlocked the door of Shin’s cell and handed him his school uniform.

“Let me hold you once,” Uncle said, grasping both of Shin’s hands tightly. Shin did not want to leave. He had never trusted – never loved – anyone before. In the years ahead, he would think of the old man far more often than he thought of his parents. But he never saw Uncle again.

Instead, Shin was led to the room where, in April, he had first been interrogated. Now, it was November. Shin had just turned 14. He had not seen the sun for more than half a year. What he saw startled him: his father knelt in front of two interrogators who sat at their desks. Kneeling beside him, Shin saw his father’s right leg canted outwards in an unnatural way. Shin Gyung Sub had also been tortured.

After signing a secrecy form, father and son were handcuffed, blindfolded and driven away. Shin guessed they would be released but when the car stopped after about 30 minutes and his blindfold was removed, he panicked. A crowd had gathered. Shin was now certain he and his father were to be executed. He became acutely aware of the air passing into and out of his lungs. He told himself these were the last breaths of his life.

“Execute Jang Hye Gyung and Shin He Geun, traitors of the people,” the senior officer said. Shin looked at his father. He was weeping silently. When guards dragged her to the gallows, Shin saw that his mother looked bloated. They forced her to stand on a wooden box, gagged her, tied her arms behind her back and a noose around her neck. She scanned the crowd and found Shin. He refused to hold her gaze. When guards pulled away the box, she jerked about desperately. As he watched his mother struggle, Shin thought she deserved to die.

Shin’s brother looked gaunt as guards tied him to the wooden post. Three guards fired their rifles three times. He thought his brother, too, deserved it.

Back at school, Shin’s teacher was furious he had not received any credit for uncovering the escape plot. Shin was made to kneel for hours and denied permission to use the toilet. Classmates snatched his food, punched him and called him names. Shin had lost much of his strength and his return to hard labor made him almost insanely hungry. In the cafeteria, he dipped his hand in soup that had spilled on the floor and licked his fingers clean. He searched for grains of rice, beans or cow dung that contained undigested kernels of corn.

Since prison, Shin was conscious of what he could never eat or see. The filth, stink and bleakness of the camp crushed his spirit. He discovered loneliness, regret and longing. Most of all, he was angry with his parents. He blamed his mother for his torture and the abuse at school. He despised both his mother and father for selfishly breeding in a labor camp, for producing offspring doomed to die behind barbed wire.

In the moments after Shin’s mother and brother were killed, Shin’s father had tried to comfort the boy. “You OK? Are you hurt anywhere?” his father asked repeatedly. Shin was too angry to reply.

On his rare days off from school, Shin was expected to see his father. During the visits, Shin would often refuse to speak. His father tried to apologize. “I know you’re suffering because you have the wrong parents,” he told Shin. “You were unlucky to be born to us. What can you do? Things just turned out this way.”

By March 1997, about four months after his release, starvation had become a real possibility. Harassed by his teacher and fellow students, Shin could not find enough nourishment. His scars still bled. He grew weaker and often failed to complete his work assignments, which led to more beatings, less food, more bleeding.

But then Shin had a break. One morning, the teacher who tormented him was gone. The new teacher sometimes sneaked food to Shin. He also assigned him less arduous work and stopped the bullying. Shin put on some weight. The burns healed. Why the new teacher made the effort, Shin never knew. But Shin is certain that without his help he would have died.

In 1998 Shin was working alongside thousands of prisoners building a hydroelectric dam on the Taedong river. Labor continued round the clock, with most of the digging and construction done by workers using shovels, buckets and bare hands. Shin had seen prisoners die in the camp before – of hunger, illness, beatings and at executions – but not as a routine part of work. The greatest loss of life occurred when a flash flood rolled down the Taedong in July 1998, sweeping away hundreds of dam workers and students. Shin was quickly put to work burying their bodies.

The following year, secondary school came to an end. At 16, it was time for a permanent job. Shin’s teacher handed down assignments without explanation, curtly telling students where they would spend the rest of their lives. More than half of Shin’s class were sent to the coalmines, where accidental death from cave-ins, explosions and gas poisonings was common. Most miners developed black lung disease and died in their 40s, if not before. Moon Sung Sim was assigned to the textile factory. Hong Sung Jo was sent to the mines. Shin never saw him again.

Shin was assigned the pig farm where he snacked on corn, cabbage and other vegetables, and sometimes even sneaked an afternoon nap. Turning 20 on the farm, Shin believed he had found the place where he would grow old and die. But in March 2003 he was transferred to the camp’s garment factory where 1,000 women stitched military uniforms during 12-hour shifts. When their foot-powered sewing machines broke down, Shin fixed them.

In the summer of 2004, while he was carrying one of these cast-iron machines, it slipped and broke beyond repair. Sewing machines were considered more valuable than prisoners: the chief foreman grabbed Shin’s right hand and hacked off his middle finger just above the first knuckle.

Nevertheless, in October the factory superintendent ordered Shin to mentor an important new prisoner. Shin was to teach Park Yong Chul how to fix sewing machines and to become his friend. Shin was to report back on everything Park said about his past, his politics and his family. “Park needs to confess,” the superintendent said. “He’s holding out on us.”

Park paid polite attention to Shin’s instructions and just as politely avoided questions about his past. After four weeks of near silence, Park surprised Shin with a personal question: “Sir, where is your home?”

“My home?” Shin said. “My home is here.” “I am from Pyongyang, sir,” Park said. Park was a dignified man in his mid-40s, but this linguistic fussiness annoyed and embarrassed Shin. “I’m younger than you,” Shin said. “Please drop the honorific with me.” “I will,” Park said. “By the way,” Shin asked, “where is Pyongyang?”

Shin’s question stunned Park. He explained that Pyongyang, located about 50 miles south of Camp 14, was the capital of North Korea, the city where the country’s powerful people lived. Park said he had grown up there, studying in East Germany and the Soviet Union. After returning home, he had become chief of a taekwondo training center. Park explained what life was like outside Camp 14. He told Shin about money, television, computers and mobile phones. He explained that the world was round.

Much of what Park talked about was difficult for Shin to understand, believe or care about. What delighted him – what he kept begging for – were stories about eating. Park described chicken, pork and beef in China, Hong Kong, Germany, England and the former Soviet Union. Intoxicated, Shin made perhaps the first free decision of his life. He chose not to snitch.

Park’s stories became an addiction but when he burst into song one night, Shin was alarmed, afraid a foreman might hear. “Stop at once,” Shin told him. Shin had never sang a song. His only exposure to music had been on the farm, when trucks with loudspeakers played military marching music. To Shin, singing seemed unnatural and insanely risky.

Park asked why he was so afraid of a little song when he was willing to hear seditious stories about how Kim Jong-il was a thief and North Korea was a hellhole.

In December 2004, Shin began thinking about escape. Park’s spirit, his dignity and his incendiary information gave Shin a way to dream about the future. He suddenly understood where he was and what he was missing. Camp 14 was no longer home; it was a cage. And Shin now had a well-traveled friend to help him get out.

Their plan was simple – and insanely optimistic. Shin would get them over the fence. Park would lead them to China, where his uncle would help them travel on to South Korea. Before he suggested they escape together, Shin had fretted for days that Park might be an informer and that he would be executed like his mother and brother. Even after Park embraced the idea, Shin was paranoid: he had sold out his own mother; why shouldn’t Park sell him out?

But Shin’s excitement overcame his fear. For the first time, he had something to look forward to. Every working day became a marathon of whispered motivational stories about the fine dining awaiting them in China. They decided that if guards discovered them at the fence, Park would take them out using taekwondo.

Shin stole warm clothes from a fellow prisoner and waited. Their chance came at New Year, a rare holiday when machines in the factory went silent for two days. Shin learned in late December that on 2 January his crew of repairmen would spend the day trimming trees and stacking wood on a mountain ridge near the fence.

Shin paid a final visit to his father. Their relationship, always distant, had grown colder still. They shared a sullen New Year’s supper. Shin made no reference to his escape plan, there was no special goodbye. Shin expected that when the guards learned of his escape, they would come for his father and take him back to the underground prison.

Early the next morning, Shin, Park and about 25 other prisoners set to work near the top of a 1,200ft slope. The sun shone brightly on a heavy snow pack. A guard tower rose from the fence line about a quarter of a mile to the north. Guards patrolled the inside perimeter with automatic weapons. Shin noticed lengthy intervals between patrols.

Shin and Park had decided they would wait until dusk, when it would be more difficult for guards to track their footsteps in the snow. At four o’clock, they sidled towards the fence, trimming trees as they moved. Shin found himself facing 10ft of high-voltage barbed wire.

“I don’t know if I can do this,” Park whispered. “Can’t we try it some other time?”

Shin feared it would be months, even years, before they would have another chance. “Let’s run!” he yelled and grabbed Park’s hand. He slipped and Park was first to the fence. Falling to his knees, he shoved his arms, head and shoulders between the two lowest strands of wire. Shin saw sparks and smelled burning flesh. Before he could get to his feet, Park had stopped moving. The weight of his body pulled down the bottom wire, creating a small gap. Without hesitation, Shin crawled over his friend’s body. He was nearly through when his legs slipped off Park’s torso and came into contact with the wire.

When he cleared the fence, Shin ran downhill for about two hours. He heard no alarms, no gunfire, no shouting. As the adrenaline began to ebb, he noticed that his trouser legs were sticky. He rolled them up, saw blood and began to comprehend the severity of his burns. It was very cold, well below 10F, and he had no coat.

Park, dead on the fence, had not told him where he might find China. Shin broke into a farmer’s shed. Inside, he discovered a military uniform. No longer a runaway prisoner, he had become just another ill-clothed, ill-nourished North Korean.

Before Shin crawled through that electric fence and ran off into the snow, no one born in a North Korean political prison camp had ever escaped. As far as can be determined, Shin is still the only one to do so.

He was 23 years old and knew no one. He slept in pig pens, haystacks and freight trains. He ate whatever he could find. He stole and traded on the black market. He was helped, exploited and betrayed. His legs hurt and he was hungry and cold, yet he was exhilarated. He felt like an alien fallen to earth.

In late January 2005, he walked all day – about 18 miles – looking for a stretch of the Tumen river to cross into China. Pretending to be a soldier, he bribed his way through border checkpoints with crackers and cigarettes. “I’m dying of hunger here,” the last soldier said. He looked to be about 16. “Don’t you have anything to eat?” Shin gave him bean-curd sausage, cigarettes and a bag of sweets.

Shallow and frozen, the river here was about a hundred yards wide. He began to walk. Halfway across, he broke through and icy water soaked his shoes. He crawled the rest of the way to China.

Within two years, he was in South Korea. Within four, he was living in southern California, an ambassador for Liberty in North Korea (Link), an American human rights group.

His name today is Shin Dong-hyuk. His overall physical health is excellent. His body, though, is a road map of the hardships of growing up in a labor camp that the North Korean government insists does not exist. Stunted by malnutrition, he is short and slight – 5ft 6in and about 120lb. His arms are bowed from childhood labor. His lower back and buttocks are covered with scars. His ankles are disfigured by shackles. His right middle finger is missing. His shins are mutilated by burns from the fence that failed to keep him inside Camp 14.

This is an edited extract from Escape From Camp 14, by Blaine Harden. Format: Hardback, ISBN: 9780230748736, Publisher: Mantle

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