"China sends people back to this place"
December 13, 2012 12:03 AM   Subscribe

"Q: What kind of comparisons can be drawn between Asia’s underground railroad and the one in pre-Civil War America? A: The way it’s set up is similar. The safe houses and transit routes are kept secret and vary a lot. There is another similarity in that many of the people who operate on the underground railroad are ethnically Korean, just as many of the operators on the original underground railroad were free blacks." -- an interview with Melanie Kirkpatrick, author of Escape from North Korea: The Untold Story of Asia's Underground Railroad
posted by bardic (10 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
I just heard about the Chinese/NK underground railroad the other day. Thanks for this.
posted by clarknova at 12:20 AM on December 13, 2012


Well, that's going in my "to-read" queue immediately. Thanks for this--I didn't even know about this book.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:31 AM on December 13, 2012


Of the many harrowing stories I came across, the one that really stuck was this prison guard recalling one family that was subjected to Mengele-esque human experimentation:

After undergoing medical checks, the chambers are sealed and poison is injected through a tube, while scientists observe from above through glass. In a report reminiscent of an earlier account of a family of seven, Kwon claims to have watched one family of two parents, a son and a daughter die from suffocating gas, with the parents trying to save the children using mouth-to-mouth resuscitation for as long as they had the strength. [wiki]

Outside of MeFi - It really saddens me how limited awareness is regarding the human rights abuses there. Or should I say public curiosity? It's as if the average person doesn't ever get beyond the Kim Jong Il Looking at Things tumblr. I hope this book helps mark the turn of the tide, with more escapees coming forth to share their histories -- and hopefully more people tuning in.
posted by hellomina at 1:03 AM on December 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Here's a recent 60 Minutes story about a guy who escaped from N Korea's gulags after having been born in one and having lived there for 23 years.
posted by dfriedman at 8:49 AM on December 13, 2012


Incidentally, since it likely will be of interest to this site's liberal members, the author of this book, Melanie Kirkpatrick, is affiliated with the Hudson Institute.
posted by dfriedman at 8:54 AM on December 13, 2012


Then it's kind of ironic that Chinese Christians are the ones mainly responsible for helping refugees, while American bible-thumpers seem to do everything in their power to make immigrants feel unwelcome. No disrespect to honest-to-goodness Christians because they are some of the most humane people out there, but the class I'm referring to as "bible-thumpers" are nothing more than wolves in sheep's clothing.
posted by Johann Georg Faust at 9:11 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well I recently read Escape from Camp 14 (subject of the 60 Minutes interview above) and Nothing to Envy which are both incredible, so will add this to my NK list. The hell of NK is becoming a literary dark tourism, yet a foil to our way of life, there are other ways, other realities.
posted by stbalbach at 9:51 AM on December 13, 2012


I'd recommend the documentary Seoul Train to anyone interested in the underground railroad. Ignore the groan-worthy title.
posted by imnotasquirrel at 9:55 AM on December 13, 2012


Then it's kind of ironic that Chinese Christians are the ones mainly responsible for helping refugees, while American bible-thumpers seem to do everything in their power to make immigrants feel unwelcome.

Well that's not really fair. A somewhat large proportion of immigrant and refugee-serving organizations in the US are religious in nature.
posted by threeants at 10:26 AM on December 13, 2012


Well that's not really fair. A somewhat large proportion of immigrant and refugee-serving organizations in the US are religious in nature.--threeants

If I may speak in Johann Georg Faust's favor, he specifically mentions 'honest-to-goodness' Christians, who I assume would be included in the religious immigrant serving group you mention, and another, separate, group whom he calls the 'bible-thumpers'. They are not the same. In fact they are almost opposites.
posted by eye of newt at 11:31 PM on December 13, 2012


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