For as long as Shin can remember, he thought of himself as the product of a sin. Camp 14 was one of the many labor camps in North Korea where people were detained for as long as they live and generations were punished for the mistakes that their ancestors made. The reason Shin was in his prison was because his parents were there, and they were there because Shin’s uncle had committed the heinous crime of trying to escape. Easily, generations were imprisoned and they paid for the mistakes and crimes that they never committed.
Shin was merely four years old when he witnessed the first death sentence of his life. The trauma that he experienced cannot be described. The first ever memory of Shin is of the brutal execution of a man, “Then there were gunshots and I remember being very scared. ”(Lunch with the FT: Shin Dong-hyuk) Living in this atmosphere, Shin had no idea of the world outside, for him Camp 14 was home. His entire childhood was spent doing harsh physical labor that obviously was never paid for.
Even the slightest of mistakes were rewarded with greater punishments. Shin has the tip of his middle finger missing, and this was the result of him dropping a sewing machine. Body parts being cut was just the tip of the ice berg as far as punishments were concerned, people were easily beaten to death, literally. (Lunch with the FT: Shin Dong-hyuk) The list of Shin’s horrific tale from Camp 14 is never ending, just as we think that this is it, it cannot get any more brutal, and it does. For twenty three years, Shin paid for crimes he never committed, instead he got used to the instructions and code of conduct there.
So much that he told on his mother and brother about their escape plan, which eventually led to their death. This act of his can easily be associated with the Stockholm syndrome, a condition in which the person subjected to abuse and torment bonds emotionally with the abuser and considers him as the “good one. ” (Counselling Resource)Since Shin had lived in those horrific circumstances since the day he was born, he was accustomed to the “All according to Rules and Regulations” code.
Anyone who tried to escape was supposed to be killed instantly, thus he told on his own mother and brother in hope of a reward, which was a meagre extra portion of food. (Lunch with the FT: Shin Dong-hyuk) Over the time, Shin’s painful past has led to a very major and intense impact on him mentally. For every normal individual, going through such extreme circumstances from such a tender age is bound to leave its mark.
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