Jan 25, 2013
Continuing with the North Korean camp prisoner theme, I had to go outside our library system to reserve "The Aquariums of Pyongyang" mentioned in "Escape From Camp 14..." It was originally published in France in 2000 and translated/published again in 2001. Author and prisoner Kang Chol-hwan wasn't born in the camp. When he was seven years old, he and his entire family - grandparents, uncles, his father and his sister - were imprisoned because the "authorities" deemed them enemies of the state. His family had actually emigrated to North Korea from Japan because his grandparents believed (wrongly) that they could return to North Korea and help re-build the country. First, the grandfather's Volvo was confiscated by the authorities. Then the grandfather was taken away one day (he just disappeared). And, finally, the authorities came for the rest of the family and hauled them away in the bed of a tarp-covered truck. They spent ten years in the camp before they were finally released, but unfortunately they never determined what happened to the grandfather. As we know from his account, Chol-hway managed to flee across the border. We can only hope the "wall" comes down between North Korea and the rest of the world, so people don't have to leave their homeland just to survive. Sooner rather than later.