Camp 14: Total Control

camp 14

Camp 14: Total control RRP: £10.19

This is a documentary film about a North Korean prison labour camp.

It tells the story of a man, Shin Dong-Huyk who was born in the camp. His parents were prisoners of the camp and were granted intimacy by the guards. This was the only life that Shin had known.

It also tells the story of two of the camps enforcement officers, and their involvement of the running of North Korean camps.

Shin talks about how easy it can be to be imprisoned into the labour camp. He goes onto say that being so poor, people would use newspapers as cigarette paper. If they were not careful of which part of the paper they would use, and used a piece with the country’s political leader’s image on, they would immediately be charged and sent to the camp.

Shin finds it very difficult to find his trail of thought when being interviewed. You can see what he went through is still very raw and difficult to think about. At points there are long pauses with his responses, there is even a point where he asks for a break from filming as it’s too hard to revisit the memories.

Shin talks about how important it is to not keep secrets and hide information he has received or events witnessed from the guards. Inmates are expected to be loyal to leaders and system. Even if it means handing over information that can incriminate your own family. Even when a child has taken a single grain of rice, the consequences, are brutal.

All inmates from a very young age are to work. They are sent to mine and work very long hours.

Inmates that did not show up for their duties would be shot. Their family, tortured for questions.

The enforcement officers of the camp have “total control” of the camp. They do as they see fit, to entertain themselves, pleasure themselves, torture the inmates by extreme measures including young children. Age is no protection to abuse.

The two guards talk very openly about their time in the camp. How they had no order to their role, they could do as they please. There seems to be no remorse as they describe there acts. What they did to the inmates. They appear on edge throughout the whole interview.

As wrong as what they have done is, and as much as you despise their actions, it is a different world, and as far as they are aware, they are doing their job.





The documentary is also part illustrated, to show the events of the acts of violence, torture and murder implemented by the guards. I feel it is illustrated to show people the truth, and shows what happened to the poor inmates of the camp without viewers seeing actual footage and seeing the horrors and inhuman acts or torture they endured. It would also be very graphic, brutal and would have most likely been banned.


Though illustrated, the impact of drawings are greatly effective. It’s hard to believe that these camps are around in this day and age. It makes you wonder how it is possible. It just feels so morally wrong and goes to show how prisoners in western prisons, have it so much better and easier when they commit far worse crimes.

Though upsetting and hard to watch at points, you could not take your eyes from the screen. It is a masterpiece of filming, and very important for as many people to see as possible.