By Evie Salomon
On Monday, the United Nations Human Rights Council released a detailed report concluding that North Korean officials have committed crimes against humanity, including “unspeakable atrocities” ranging from systematic executions to torture, rape, and mass starvation.
One of the major witnesses spotlighted in the report is Shin Dong-hyuk, a North Korean defector who escaped from a prison camp known as “Camp 14” in 2005 at the age of 23. Shin was born and raised in the camp, and he is believed to be the only person to escape and live to tell about it.
Shin’s testimony in the UN report paints a similar picture to the interview he gave 60 Minutes correspondent Anderson Cooper in 2012. At the time of the interview, Shin was 30-years-old and living in Seoul, South Korea, where he had begun to build a new life after his escape.As Shin recounted to Cooper, his family members were confined to Camp 14 as part of the “three generations of punishment” doctrine, in which three generations of a family—grandparents, parents and children—are imprisoned for years in hard labor camps as punishment for the perceived “crime” or disloyalty of one member of the family.
While at the camp, Shin witnessed the execution of his mother and brother, who were put to death for plotting an escape. As Shin told Cooper, as well as the UN panel, it was he who reported his family members’ plot to a prison guard, in hopes of acquiring an extra ration of food.
It was also the promise of food that inspired Shin to attempt his dramatic escape from Camp 14. Watch Anderson Cooper’s full interview in the player above to learn how Shin managed to escape the horrific camp where he suffered for more than two decades.