Escape from Camp 14


Blaine Harden

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The Electric Fence Symbol Analysis

The Electric Fence Symbol Icon

The electric fence surrounding Camp 14 is a grim symbol of the repression and brutality that characterized Shin’s life in the prison, as well as life for all North Koreans living under the Kim dynasty. When Shin ultimately escapes Camp 14 (or escapes for the last time, in light of his 2015 testimony), his friend Park Young Chul is killed by the electric fence, and Shin uses Park’s body to shield himself from being electrocuted as well. In this way the fence and Park’s death emphasize the brutal reality of Shin’s life—in order for him to survive and escape, it’s sometimes necessary for others to die: first Shin’s mother and brother, and finally Park.

The Electric Fence Quotes in Escape from Camp 14

The Escape from Camp 14 quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Electric Fence. 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 15 Quotes

What he remembers most clearly about crawling through the fence was that Park's body smelled like it was burning.

Related Symbols: The Electric Fence
Page Number: 118
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Electric Fence Symbol Timeline in Escape from Camp 14

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Electric Fence appears in Escape from Camp 14. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 14: Preparing to Run
Tyranny and the North Korean State Theme Icon
Survival, Self-interest, and Morality Theme Icon
Indoctrination and Brainwashing Theme Icon
...Park develop a plan to escape from Camp 14. Shin will get them over the fence, and Park will lead them to China, where his uncle will sneak them into South... (full context)
Chapter 15: The Fence
Survival, Self-interest, and Morality Theme Icon
...for a fire. It is an extraordinary coincidence that they’re working so close to the fence that day—as a result of their assignment, they can run to the fence and then... (full context)
Survival, Self-interest, and Morality Theme Icon
Around four pm, Shin and Park sneak towards the fence, which is about ten feet high and consists of strands of electrified barbed wire spaced... (full context)
Tyranny and the North Korean State Theme Icon
Survival, Self-interest, and Morality Theme Icon
It’s unclear how Shin survived the electric fence, but it appears that Park’s body transmitted the electric current from the fence into the... (full context)