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 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: 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.).
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
Chapter 15: The Fence