Review: Total Control Zone

If you are reading this blog post in the comfortable confines of your home, work or school consider yourself millions times luckier than the subjects who are at the core of Marc Wiese’s newest documentary Camp 14 – Total Control Zone.  This raw documentary reveals the inhumane and unimaginable horrors existing within North Korean prison camps told through the eyes of Shin Dong-huyk, the only known inmate to escape from a maximum security North Korean prison. Born to parents who were also inmates, for 23 years Shin was forced into labour, tortured in prison, experienced severe starvation and conditioned to report bad behaviour to prison officers (even if it means turning in family members). Thanks to the kindness of a fellow inmate and friendship from a fellow labour camp worker, Shin decides to make it his mission to escape. Though physically out of the North, his mind cannot escape the horrific memories of this repressive regime. Even more surprisingly, Shin admits he longs to one day return to North Korea where he has “doesn’t have to think” unlike the people in hectic money-obsessed South Korea. Wiese balances Shin’s account with rare interviews with a former guard and commander from North Korea who basically confirm the aforementioned atrocities. This is the real deal and will make you question humanity as you know it. Like I said before, consider yourself lucky.

This is a hard one to watch – but a necessary one. Total Control Zone will be screened at TIFF: Tues Sept 11, 5:00PM at Yonge & Dundas; Thur Sept 13, 9:00PM at Lightbox; Sun Sept 16, 9:30AM at Scotiabank. Watch trailer here.