A new documentary will soon shed more light on the horrors that happen inside the extensive network of prison camps in North Korea.
“Camp 14: Total Control Zone” will follow the life of Shin Dong-hyuk, a North Korean who was born inside a camp, and endured torture and total control from sadistic guards inside the wire for 23 years. The UN recently likened conditions in these camps to Nazi war crimes.
In a previous interview with 60 Minutes, Shin said he was once sent to an underground torture center at age 13 when his mother and older brother were accused of attempting an escape. “They hung me by the ankles and they tortured me with fire.”
Shin, who recently gave testimony before a UN commission, would rather not talk about the past, but he cannot be free of it. Physically, in the film, he is in Seoul. Mentally and emotionally, he is still back in camp 14. To date, he is the only known person to have been born in a total control zone camp and escaped, and some have questioned his story. “We made something like 15 lie detector tests with him,” says Wiese, who first read about the young Korean in the Washington Post. By now there can be little doubt of his veracity, or that his experiences weigh heavily on him.
The producers wanted to shoot him talking in a studio, but that was “impossible”. “I had to build him a setting where he felt comfortable,” says Wiese. Instead, they worked in Shin’s home, in a bare space with bedding on the floor, similar to the way he lived with his mother, as a child, in the camp. Even then, “it was complicated for him”.
As one would expect, the trailer alone is harrowing. According to the film website, filmmaker Marc Wiese crafted the documentary from interviews with Shin as well as former camp guards and secret police, coupled with animated scenes of life inside.
Watch the trailer:
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