The character of Jang Hye Gyung / Shin’s Mother in Escape from Camp 14 from LitCharts | The creators of SparkNotes

Escape from Camp 14

Jang Hye Gyung / Shin’s Mother Character Analysis

Jang Hye Gyung is the biological mother of Shin Dong-hyuk, although she fulfills few of the roles one typically associates with a mother—she doesn’t nurture, educate, or, it would seem, love her son. Jang is sent to Camp 14 for reasons that are never explained in Escape From Camp 14 (as Shin himself doesn’t know), where she’s forced to marry Shin Gyung Su and have children with him. Jang’s life is hard and miserable; she’s underfed, and seems to view Shin as her competitor for food (which is exactly how Shin thinks of Jang). Jang and her older son, He Geun, plan to escape from Camp 14, but Shin informs on them, and they’re eventually executed.

Jang Hye Gyung / Shin’s Mother Quotes in Escape from Camp 14

The Escape from Camp 14 quotes below are all either spoken by Jang Hye Gyung / Shin’s Mother or refer to Jang Hye Gyung / Shin’s Mother. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Tyranny and the North Korean State Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Books edition of Escape from Camp 14 published in 2013.
Chapter 1 Quotes

That evening, Shin went with his mother to an "ideological struggle" meeting, a compulsory gathering for self-criticism. Shin’s mother again fell to her knees at the meeting, as forty of her fellow farm workers followed the bowijidowoz's lead and berated her for failing to fill her work quota.

Related Characters: Shin In Geun / Shin Dong-hyuk, Jang Hye Gyung / Shin’s Mother
Page Number: 20
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 5 Quotes

Accepting the guard’s word, Shin explained what his brother and mother were planning and where they were. The guard telephoned his superiors. He told Shin and Hong to go back to the dormitory and get some sleep. He would take care of everything.

Related Characters: Shin In Geun / Shin Dong-hyuk, Jang Hye Gyung / Shin’s Mother, He Geun / Shin’s Brother, Hong Sung Jo
Page Number: 54
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 7 Quotes

It was Shin's first exposure to sustained kindness, and he was grateful beyond words. But he also found it puzzling. He had not trusted his mother to keep him from starving.

Related Characters: Shin In Geun / Shin Dong-hyuk, Jang Hye Gyung / Shin’s Mother, Kim Jin Myung / “Uncle”
Page Number: 63
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 8 Quotes

Shin's brother looked gaunt and frail as guards tied him to the wooden post. Three guards fired their rifles three times. Bullets snapped the rope that held his forehead to the pole. It was a bloody, brain-splattered mess of a killing, a spectacle that sickened and frightened Shin. But he thought his brother, too, had deserved it.

Related Characters: Shin In Geun / Shin Dong-hyuk, Jang Hye Gyung / Shin’s Mother, He Geun / Shin’s Brother
Page Number: 68
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 13 Quotes

He began thinking about escape. Park made those thoughts possible. He changed the way Shin connected with other people. Their friendship broke a lifelong pattern—stretching back to Shin's malignant relationship with his mother—of wariness and betrayal.

Related Characters: Shin In Geun / Shin Dong-hyuk, Jang Hye Gyung / Shin’s Mother, Park Yong Chul
Page Number: 106
Explanation and Analysis:

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Jang Hye Gyung / Shin’s Mother Character Timeline in Escape from Camp 14

The timeline below shows where the character Jang Hye Gyung / Shin’s Mother appears in Escape from Camp 14. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Preface: A Teachable Moment
Tyranny and the North Korean State Theme Icon
...“His first memory is an execution.” When Shin In Geun is four years old, his mother walks him to a wheat field, where thousands of others have been rounded up by... (full context)
Tyranny and the North Korean State Theme Icon
Survival, Self-interest, and Morality Theme Icon
Indoctrination and Brainwashing Theme Icon
...them: the guards tortured them in order to learn about the failed escape of Shin’s mother and brother. Shin has been brutally beaten, but he hasn’t confessed—he wasn’t involved in the... (full context)
Guilt Theme Icon
...Shin and his father are forced to stand in the crowd and watch as Shin’s mother and brother are killed. At the time, Shin is angry with his family for planning... (full context)
Introduction: Never Heard the Word “Love”
Tyranny and the North Korean State Theme Icon
Activism and Indifference Theme Icon
On January 2, 2005—nine years after his mother’s execution, at the age of 23—Shin escaped from Camp 14. He is believed to be... (full context)
Tyranny and the North Korean State Theme Icon
Survival, Self-interest, and Morality Theme Icon
Guilt Theme Icon
...camp, though he remembers his family with love. Shin’s story of survival is very different—his mother hit him and his father ignored him, and neither showed him any real affection. He... (full context)
Tyranny and the North Korean State Theme Icon
Indoctrination and Brainwashing Theme Icon
...in 2008, in downtown Seoul. With a translator’s help, Shin told Harden about watching his mother’s hanging. He also mentioned that he’d never heard the word “love,” even from his mother—a... (full context)
Chapter 1: The Boy Who Ate His Mother’s Lunch
Tyranny and the North Korean State Theme Icon
Survival, Self-interest, and Morality Theme Icon
Guilt Theme Icon
Shin and his mother live in one of the best parts of Camp 14—a “model village,” consisting of forty... (full context)
Tyranny and the North Korean State Theme Icon
Survival, Self-interest, and Morality Theme Icon
As a child, Shin eats the food his mother brought home for meeting her “daily work quota.” Sometimes, he eats his mother’s food, too—but... (full context)
Tyranny and the North Korean State Theme Icon
Survival, Self-interest, and Morality Theme Icon
Guilt Theme Icon
...father is named Shin Gyung Sub. Supposedly, the guards rewarded him with a marriage to Jang because he was good at operating a lathe. Marriage is usually seen as a promotion,... (full context)
Tyranny and the North Korean State Theme Icon
Survival, Self-interest, and Morality Theme Icon
Indoctrination and Brainwashing Theme Icon
...to snitch on his peers. However, he also witnesses the head guard having sex with Jang. Jang puts up no resistance, and Shin never speaks to his mother about what he’d... (full context)
Chapter 4: Mother Tries to Escape
Tyranny and the North Korean State Theme Icon
Survival, Self-interest, and Morality Theme Icon
...you’re here?” When Shin says that he has no idea, they inform him that his mother and brother have been caught trying to escape. Shin insists that he knows nothing about... (full context)
Tyranny and the North Korean State Theme Icon
Survival, Self-interest, and Morality Theme Icon
Indoctrination and Brainwashing Theme Icon
Guilt Theme Icon
...There is no way to prove Shin’s claims about the prison, since his brother and mother are dead. Personally, Harden believed Shin’s story, and included it in his initial Post article.... (full context)
Chapter 5: Mother Tries to Escape, Version Two
Survival, Self-interest, and Morality Theme Icon
Guilt Theme Icon
...him that as a reward for good behavior, he can go eat dinner with his mother, rather than spending time in the dormitory. At home, Shin finds Jang sitting with his... (full context)
Survival, Self-interest, and Morality Theme Icon
Indoctrination and Brainwashing Theme Icon
Guilt Theme Icon
Shin listens to Jang and He Geun talk, and realizes that they’re planning to escape. Shin becomes alarmed—he is... (full context)
Chapter 6: This Son of a Bitch Won’t Do
Tyranny and the North Korean State Theme Icon
Survival, Self-interest, and Morality Theme Icon
Guilt Theme Icon
...accomplice. (Shin later realized that the night guard had claimed all the credit for discovering Jang’s escape plan—he hadn’t mentioned Shin at all.) (full context)
Tyranny and the North Korean State Theme Icon
Survival, Self-interest, and Morality Theme Icon
...next day, they bring him back for more interrogation. They demand to know why his mother wanted to escape, threatening to kill Shin if he doesn’t tell the truth. The next... (full context)
Chapter 8: Avoiding Mother’s Eyes
Tyranny and the North Korean State Theme Icon
Survival, Self-interest, and Morality Theme Icon
Indoctrination and Brainwashing Theme Icon
...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. (full context)
Tyranny and the North Korean State Theme Icon
Survival, Self-interest, and Morality Theme Icon
Indoctrination and Brainwashing Theme Icon
Guilt 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... (full context)
Chapter 9: Reactionary Son of a Bitch
Survival, Self-interest, and Morality Theme Icon
Indoctrination and Brainwashing Theme Icon
Guilt Theme Icon
...to hate his parents for giving birth to him within Camp 14. He hates his mother for plotting to escape, and when his father visits him, Shin refuses to speak. Yet... (full context)
Chapter 21: K’uredit K’adus
Guilt Theme Icon
...new home, Shin begins to have nightmares and traumatic flashbacks to the day of his mother’s death. He begins to feel guilty for his role in her murder. Many North Korean... (full context)
Chapter 23: U.S.A.
Guilt Theme Icon
Activism and Indifference Theme Icon
...hard to talk about his life. Shin explains that he still has nightmares about his mother’s death. When LiNK tries to convince him to go to therapy, he refuses. He also... (full context)