Surviving North Korea’s House of the Dead, from today’s Asia Times Online, discusses the forthcoming Long Road Home: Testimony of a North Korean Camp Survivor by Kim Yong and Kim Suk-Young.
The article discusses Kim Yong’s extraordinary account of being a prisoner in North Korea’s most notorious labor camp. Kim Yong, who was once lieutenant colonel in the North Korean army and enjoyed many privileges before being sent to prison after being accused of treason, witnessed unimaginable suffering inside the camp and survived brutal camp guards, famine, torture, and more before his remarkable escape in 1999 which led him eventually to the United States.
The Long Road Home is one of the only first-hand accounts of North Korea’s prisons and reads like “a cross between Dante’s Inferno and the Great Escape with tragic and triumphal overtones.” In fact, Kim Yong is one of the only people to have survived North Korea’s gulag system and escaped the countyr.
The article also details the writing process between Kim Yong and Kim Suk-Young, who interviewed the frequently reluctant Kim Yong. The article describes Kim Suk-Young’s reaction to hearing descriptions of the labor camps:
During the project the discovery she made that surprised her most was just how drastically that North Korea had regressed—to the point that unimaginable acts such as cannibalism and torture have become part of everyday life. “I was also surprised by how resilient human life can be in the case of Kim Yong,” she said.
Kim Yong authored the book because he is determined that the nation’s devastating realities become globally known. “He thinks that it’s deplorable that the world knows so little about North Korea.”