What is a typical day in your life like? When you get out of bed in the morning, what are the most pressing matters that come up in your head?
For Shin Dong-hyuk, living in North Korea meant that torture, chronic hunger, and executions were a normal part of life. Born in a political prison camp, his everyday experiences included back-breaking labor and harsh beatings.
In order to survive, prisoners are encouraged to inform on one another and taught not to show affection towards others, including their own family members. Because of this, Shin felt little loyalty to his family, and later watched as his mother and brother were publicly executed.
He was later assigned to work at a textile factory, where he was forced to meet daily quotas under threat of physical punishments. But it was at the factory where he met a fellow prisoner who would change his life: Mr. Park. Unlike the young Shin, Mr. Park was a well-educated 40-year-old man who had visited places outside North Korea, including Germany and China.