Prominent North Korean Defector Shin Dong-hyuk Changes His Story

Image: File photo of North Korean defector Shin Dong-hyuk in Geneva
Shin Dong-hyuk poses after an interview with Reuters in Geneva in this June 5, 2013 file photo. Reuters

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SEOUL — A North Korean defector, whose dramatic escape from a brutal prison camp was the subject of a bestselling book, has changed key parts of his story and on Sunday apologized for misleading people. "Escape from Camp 14", written by former Washington Post journalist Blaine Harden, brought Shin Dong-hyuk international fame.

Shin, one of the best-known defectors from North Korea, said on his Facebook page he had tried to hide parts of his past. "To those who have supported me, trusted me and believed in me all this time, I am so very grateful and at the same time so very sorry to each and every single one of you," Shin said. Harden wrote on his website that he had been in contact with Shin, "pressing him to detail the changes and explain why he had misled me." Neither Harden nor Shin gave details about the changes.

Shin had said in the book he was tortured when he was 13 after a failed attempt to flee Camp 14 where he was born in until a dramatic escape in 2005. He said he informed a prison guard of a plan by his mother and brother to escape Camp 14 and both were executed. According to the Washington Post, Shin told Harden that he was moved from Camp 14 to a different prison camp, Camp 18, and it was there that he betrayed his mother and brother. He also told Harden that he had escaped the prison and fled to China where he was caught and sent back to the North, the newspaper said. In his original account, he said he had lived all his life in Camp 14 until his escape.


— Reuters