Can you imagine being born in a labour camp as a child of political prisoners, subjected to unimaginable torture and cruelty, escaping into a free world that you did not even know existed for the first twenty-odd years of your life and then having strong regrets about leaving this abominable living Hell ? This is the reality for Shin Dong-Huyk; such was the dystopian-type conditioning of the brutal North Korean labour camp, almost a camp without a name, bureaucratically known as Camp 14, where punishment for failure to comply with every rule, regardless of how extreme or inhumane, meant certain death.
Experienced documentary filmmaker, Marc Wiese, pieces together the appalling story through a series of interviews with Shin, now in his late twenties, and astonishingly frank disclosures from two vile former camp guards of the kind that seem to think that they can refer to their former lives in the third person and relieve themselves of responsibility. Powerful monochrome animations, giving some of these accounts visual form, and occasional snippets of priceless film footage shot in secret reinforce the talking heads in a harrowing unveiling of human rights violations that are so systemic and institutionalised in their scope and execution to subsume the atrocities as part of routine behaviour to the point of habit.
Watching Shin’s mental agony, grappling with words that describe experiences way beyond our comprehension, is close to being unwatchable as he takes us back to a ‘Russian roulette’ decision he faced as a scared witless young teenager. Some kind of diabolical outcome seemed inevitable from the moment that he started to describe his mother’s ill-conceived plan to escape the camp with his brother, which, as he perceived it, at least, would have meant certain death for him and his father for failing to report a conspiracy. He provides a remarkably detailed account of his balancing out of the various permutations, the seven months non-stop physical beatings that he suffered after telling a guard and his eventual release in time for compulsory attendance at his mother’s and brother’s barbaric public execution.
Equally unexpectedly, one of the guards, now living a comparatively ordinary life in Seoul, seems undaunted by the prospect of explaining himself to his own son. Raising no more than a slight ironic smile of the type that hints at minor misdemeanours, he displayed an extraordinary confidence that his son would one day be old enough ‘to understand’. This comes from a man who had just confessed to routinely raping women prisoners and killing them if they inconveniently became pregnant and sentencing others to death simply because he could.
Seeing Shin now with a semi-celebrity status that he does not understand, touring the world talking at conferences and other major events – receiving cheers from activists as he enters a room – he cuts a terribly lonely figure caught between two worlds that in their very different ways he clearly finds repulsive. It may come as a shock to many in the West but this is what displacement looks like, and points towards the kind of difficulties Korea would encounter if it ever achieved reunification. Wiese, a German filmmaker, seemed acutely aware of this reality when moulding this superb documentary.buy motilium tabletsorder domperidone from canadawhere to buy motilium in the usbuy domperidone from canada