Jonathan Mirsky

The Worst Place on Earth

Escape from Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West


Mantle 256pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

Shin Dong-hyuk is the only person on earth born in one of North Korea’s hellhole concentration camps who has escaped and told his story. During his twenty-three years in Camp 14, a ghastly place even by North Korean standards, Shin knew absolutely nothing of the world beyond the electrified wire. From a new prisoner who had lived most of his life outside the camps, Shin learned that the world is round, that there is a city called Pyongyang and countries called South Korea and China, and that in those and many other countries people have computers, mobile phones and television, and use something called money. But what really fascinated Shin was that outside Camp 14 there were people who had enough to eat. ‘What he kept begging [for] were stories about food and eating, particularly when the main course was grilled meat,’ which Shin had eaten only when he had trapped a rat.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter