Remember North Korea’s "Death Camp" Report? Parts Of It May Not Be True

An admission from a defector raises questions. Shin Dong-hyuk, a famous North Korean dissident, has apologized for not being entirely honest about the human rights abuses he experienced in the Hermit Kingdom.

Shin Dong Hyuk

While he says he wasn’t lying about what happened, the time and date of some events were actually wrong.

Shin, 32, rose to prominence after his life story became the subject of the best-selling book, Escape from Camp 14, written by Blaine Harden. He gave a first-hand witness account of the atrocities in Pyongyang’s “total control death camp” where he was born and spent almost 23 years in captivity.

His distressing details helped the United Nations prepare a crucial panel report on North Korea and its human rights violations. However, the intergovernmental organization might want to review its conclusions now that Shin has admitted that some details of his ordeal were inaccurate.

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“Every one of us have stories, or things we’d like to hide. We all have something in the past that we never want brought to light. I, too, forever wanted to conceal and hide part of my past. We tell ourselves that it’s OK to not reveal every little detail, and that it might not matter if certain parts aren’t clarified,” Shin stated in a Facebook post.

“At this point I may or may not be able to continue in my work and efforts in trying to eliminate the political prison camps and bring justice to the oppressed – the same goes for my entire fight altogether against the North Korean regime,” he added, saying this could be his “final” social media post for now.

Harden, the author of Escape from Camp 14, maintains people shouldn’t doubt Shin’s credibility just because he forgot to remember the exact time and place of some events.

"From a human rights perspective, he was still brutally tortured, but he moved things around," he told the Washington Post.

Harden added that he is currently working with the publisher, Penguin Books, “to gather more information and amend the book.”

Also Read: 5 Human Rights Abuses In North Korea That Are More Important Than Swiss Ski Lifts

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