Escape from Camp 14

Escape from Camp 14 Chapter 8 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The guards take Shin, dressed in his school uniform, into the room where he’d first been interrogated. It is late November, and Shin has just had his fourteenth birthday. To Shin’s amazement, Shin’s father, Shin Gyung Sub, is kneeling on the floor. Shin Gyung Sub has been brought to prison around the same time as Shin. His leg has been broken, meaning that from now on, he’ll have to work as an unskilled laborer, rather than continuing on as a skilled lathe operator. Guards force Shin and his father to sign nondisclosure agreements—if they ever speak of their time in prison, they’ll be shot. They are then driven back to the center of the camp, where their blindfolds are removed. There, they see Jang and He Geun, tied up for an execution. Shin’s father begins to weep.
Shin’s father was arrested and tortured under suspicion of the same crimes at Shin himself: assisting with his wife’s escape from the prison camp. Unlike Shin, however, Shin’s father had no alibi to protect himself, meaning that he was more severely tortured. Again, it seems strange that Shin and his father would be required to formally agree not to talk about their time in jail—what would a nondisclosure agreement accomplish that the threat of further torture wouldn't do already? Shin’s father, at least, has the ability to weep for his wife—he hasn’t been nearly as thoroughly brainwashed as Shin.
Themes
Tyranny and the North Korean State Theme Icon
Survival, Self-interest, and Morality Theme Icon
Indoctrination and Brainwashing Theme Icon
For years, Shin has lived in shame about the death of Jang and He Geun. He lied about his role in the atrocity, and continues to remember the look on his mother’s face on the day of her murder. At the time, however, Shin believes that his family deserves its punishment for plotting to leave the camp.
As with other passages in the book, Harden is vague about what exactly went through Shin’s head at the time of the execution: was he happy to see his mother executed? Was he indifferent? At least a little regretful? It seems safe to assume that Shin refused to tell Harden about his state of mind at the time.
Themes
Tyranny and the North Korean State Theme Icon
Survival, Self-interest, and Morality Theme Icon
Indoctrination and Brainwashing Theme Icon
Guilt Theme Icon