North Korean Camp Survivor May End Rights Crusade After Lying

A North Korean prison camp survivor whose testimony helped spark UN condemnation of the Kim Jong Un regime says he may end his human rights campaign after revealing he lied about some details in a best-selling book about his life.

“This particular past of mine that I so badly wanted to cover up can no longer be hidden, nor do I want it to be,” Shin Dong Hyuk, 32, wrote on his Facebook page. “At this point I may or may not be able to continue in my work and efforts in trying to eliminate the political prison camps and bring justice to the oppressed -- the same goes for my entire fight altogether against the North Korean regime.”

Shin told friends an account of his life that was “substantially” different from what former Washington Post journalist Blaine Harden heard from him for his book,“Escape from Camp 14,” the author said on his website.

Shin told Harden it was Camp 18, not Camp 14, where he witnessed the executions of his mother and brother after he told authorities of their plans to escape, the Washington Post reported. Shin also retracted his earlier comment that he was tortured at 13 for trying to escape, saying it happened when he was 20.

South Korea estimates North Korea may be housing about 150,000 people in its network of prison camps. North Korea, which denies operating any such camps, has ratcheted up its diplomatic campaign in recent months to fend off allegations of human-rights violations against the regime.

Shin calls himself “the only known person born in a North Korean prison camp that escaped and survived to tell the tale” on his Facebook page. His testimony is included in a United Nations Commission of Inquiry report, which led a UN human-rights committee to vote in November to hold the regime accountable for crimes against humanity. The North threatened a fourth nuclear test in response.

In October North Korea released a video of Shin’s father claiming that his son had never been in a labor camp. Shin said that his father was taken hostage by the North Korean regime and coerced into making the video.

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