Camp 14: Total Control Zone

Marc Wiese

The horrific account of Shin Dong-hyuk who grew up in a North Korean labor camp but escaped at the age of 23 to South Korea. Documentary images are interspersed with restrained animated scenes that reproduce events within the camp.

‘A human life in the camp was worth the same as that of a fly,’ says a former guard of a North Korean labor camp. The guard plays only a minor role in Camp 14. The film's protagonist is a young man born in a similar camp who grew up as a forced laborer. At the age of 23, Shin Dong-hyuk managed to escape to South Korea. Once out of the camp, he at first felt like he was from outer space. The principle of money as a means of exchange, for example, was utterly foreign to him. In his austerely furnished Seoul home, he talks about the horrors of the camp. Judging by his facial expression, one might think he was unaffected, but there are occasional long pauses in his account and moments when he halts completely, such as when he describes how he was forced to betray his blood relatives and witness the execution of his mother, his father at his side. Although he initially thought the outside world was a paradise, he now believes that ‘It's all about money. It's odd, but more people are committing suicide here than in the camp. I miss the purity of my heart.’

Scarred by his experience, Shin Dong-hyuk is now devoting his time to helping North Korean refugees and to changing the human rights situation in his motherland with grassroots organisation LiNK.


Marc Wiese
Country of production
104 minutes
Spoken language
English, Korean
Production company
Engstfeld Film GmbH
World Sales
Global Screen