This is the story of a man who was born and grew up in a Gulag-style North-Korean camp. After his escape at the age of 23, he discovers the “outside world” for the first time. The film relays his incredible story, as well as those of his fellow inmates and prison guards.
Shin Dong-Huyk was born on November 19, 1983 as a political prisoner in a North Korean re-education camp. He was a child of two prisoners who had been married by order of the wardens. He spent his entire childhood and youth in Camp 14, in fact a death camp. He was forced to labor since he was six years old and suffered from hunger, beatings and torture, always at the mercy of the wardens. He knew nothing about the world outside the barbed-wire fences. At the age of 23, with the help of an older prisoner, he managed to escape. For months he traveled through North Korea and China and finally to South Korea, where he encountered a world completely strange to him.
Shin Dong Huyk: “Our sole purpose was to follow the rules of the work camp and then die. People on the outside call this place the “Total Control Zone”. We knew nothing of the outside. All we knew was that our parents and our forefathers were guilty and we had to work hard in order to make up for it. Sometimes new people entered the camp but I never saw anyone pardoned for their crime and allowed leave. So none of us thought we would ever leave this place. Sometimes people tried to escape, driven by fear of starving or being beaten, but they were publicly executed and became the object of hate for those of us who were left behind.”