Tonight’s episode of 60 Minutes (hands down the best news magazine on television and arguably the best journalism on broadcast TV) featured a harrowing story of survival for a North Korean political prisoner. He was born, raised, and would have died in Camp 14 (a prison camp that could have more than 15,000 prisoners in it) if he hadn’t escaped.

He is believed to be the only escaped North Korean political prisoner to live long enough to tell his story. [It was reported that many of the prisoners lucky enough to escape——and there are very few—–escape to China, where they will be returned if found there. The prisoner in this story found refuge in South Korea.] The reason he was born in this prison is part of North Korea’s “Three generations” punishment which imprisons the children and grandchildren of political prisoners in hopes of wiping out their bloodline.

If all this sounds fascinating to you, as it does to me, then I’d like to re-recommend March’s Book of the Month Club pick, Adam Johnson’s The Orphan Master’s Son. It follows a North Korean orphan’s remarkable journey from soldier to spy to kidnapper of South Koreans to political prisoner to unlikely savior of a North Korean propaganda actress, the novel is wild but ultra-realistic, following the rhythms of one of the most bizarre countries on Earth.

Read it and be glad you did.

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