Escape from Camp 14 Chapters 21-Epilogue Summary & Analysis

Blaine Harden

Escape from Camp 14

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Escape from Camp 14 Chapters 21-Epilogue Summary & Analysis

Part 3

Chapter 21 Summary

After his interrogation was complete, Shin was transferred to a resettlement center around 40 miles south of Seoul. The center was built in 1999 and it is intended to acclimatize North Koreans to the capitalist culture that prevails in South Korea. To that end, it is staffed by teachers, psychologists and career counselors. The center also organizes field trips, though Shin’s experiences as a runaway meant that he was not daunted by such experiences.

Shin received documents and identification confirming his South Korean citizenship, and he and other defectors learned that the Korean War was instigated when North Korea launched an unprovoked attack in 1950. North Koreans are taught from childhood that South Korea started the war, and many refuse to believe the truth. Shin, however, was more concerned with learning how to use a computer and find information on the Internet.

Towards the end of his first month at the center, Shin started experiencing nightmares. Nearly all defectors show exhibit clinical symptoms of paranoia and are extremely suspicious of authority figures. Such paranoia was a rational response to the political situation in North Korea and helped people survive, yet it presents a significant barrier to resettlement. During field trips to movie theaters, for instance, defectors tend to panic when the lights go down, as they fear they will be kidnapped. In addition, some defectors are cognitively impaired; apparently due to severe malnourishment in childhood. Anxiety about debt can also be an issue in cases where defectors have escaped with the help of brokers. Once defectors have graduated from the resettlement center, these brokers start demanding payment.

Shin did not have to worry about brokers, but his nightmares persisted and the staff moved him to the psychiatric ward of a nearby hospital. After he was discharged, he was transferred to a small apartment, but rarely went outdoors during the first month. He ventured outside eventually but he felt lonely and struggled to hold down a job. The staff from the hospital subsequently put him in touch with a counselor from the Database Center for North Korean Human Rights. Shin…

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