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A Review of the Yoduk Story Musical, by a Former Political Prisoner in the 14th Camp

Shin Dong Hyuk, former prisoner in the 14th Political Prison Camp  |  2008-04-29 10:32
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Shin Dong Hyuk, who escaped North Korea in 2005, watched the Yoduk Story musical and wrote a review of it. This is the essay of a former North Korean political prisoner, who was born in a prison camp, about his impression of the musical.

[imText1]I watched Yoduk Story, the musical, on the 24th. When I was encouraged to see it, I worried a lot that I would doze off or be bored during the performance, because I can scarcely feel a normal humans emotions.

However, it was a groundless concern.

The real situation in North Koreas political prison camps is much more terrible than what the South Korean people can imagine. Although they watch Yoduk Story, they cannot understand fully and they see just the tip of the iceberg. People just looked like they were praising the performance of Yoduk Story for its cultural aspects.

When I look back the life in the camp, South Korean-style singing and dancing is absolutely impossible there. [He is referring to a scene in which Lee Tae Shik, a character in the musical, sings songs with children spending their time in the camp.]

However, it was dramatized in that way in order to get the attention of the South Korean people.

In practice, as you see in the musical, kids like Yoduk (the son of the heroine, born in the Yoduk camp) are still being born, living and growing up as children of political prisoners – and also getting old as prisoners carrying on a family line until they die in the camp.

The staff and affiliates of Yoduk Story did a great job and I can see they did their best to produce this musical. However, I felt something lacking about the South Korean version of reality, in which people do not believe that much more terrible, horrible and gruesome things than those depicted in Yoduk Story are being committed in North Korea. It is also a pity that they need this dramatized form of performances, adapted to the South Korean people, to make people understand the Norths reality.

I expect that peoples interest in North Korean human rights will rise through Yoduk Story.

Shin Dong Hyuk was born in the 14th Political Prison Camp in Kaecheon, South Pyongan Province. It is a completely-controlled zone, where nobody can be released alive.

His mother and elder brother were captured, shot, and hung to death for attempting to escape. When their executions were committed, he witnessed them but he couldnt feel anything, even sadness or anger, according to his testimony. His 24-year life in the prison camp made him that way, destroyed physically as well as emotionally.

He was hidden in China for a year after his defection in January of 2005 and entered South Korea in late 2006.

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