Camp 14 - Total Control Zone

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Germany | 2012 | 104 Minutes | Marc Wiese

March 28, 2014

This fascinating documentary blends intimate interviews and animated recreations to tell the story of a young man who grew inside a North Korean prison camp. Co-presented by Washington Korean Seattle Association.

Shin Dong-Huyk grew up imprisoned by dehumanizing violence yet still found the will to escape. Born inside a North Korean prison camp as the child of political prisoners, he was raised in a world where all he knew was punishment, torture, and abuse. Filmmaker Marc Wiese crafts his documentary by quietly drawing details from Shin in a series of interviews in which Shin's silence says as much as his words. Weaving anecdotes from a former camp guard and a member of the secret police with powerful animated scenes capturing key moments in Shin's life, Wiese pulls audiences into Shin's world. Shin escapes and becomes a human rights 'celebrity,' but as we see, his life outside the camp is often just as challenging as it was inside it.

North Korea operates a network of political prison camps known as gwa-li-so, a word that strikes fear in North Koreans who know that the brutal forced labor, near-starvation rations, and abuse by prison guards means that being sent there is akin to a death sentence. With research based on testimonies of Shin and others who have managed to flee the country, Human Rights Watch is campaigning to establish a United Nations commission of inquiry to investigate crimes against humanity taking place in the gwa-li-so and other detention centers in the country