The Aquariums of Pyongyang

There have been numerous books on the horrors of Nazi Germany’s Holocaust. And both Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago, from 1973 and Anne Applebaum’s Gulag from 2003 have exposed the horrors of its Soviet inspiration.


But both of those regimes have been cast aside, to borrow President Reagan’s phrase, on the ash heap of history. In contrast, North Korea’s concentration camps and that totalitarian nation’s multitude of other horrors continue, unabated, to this very day.

In a recent review, Orrin Judd looks at The Aquariums of Pyongyang: Ten Years in the North Korean Gulag, written in 2000 by Kang Chol-Hwan, who, as the title of his book implies, spent a decade, beginning in 1977, trapped as a prisoner inside of North Korea’s nightmarish Yodok concentration camp. One reassuring sign: in contrast to President Ford’s embarrassing rebuff of Solzhenitsyn, Orrin links to a Washington Post article which notes that President Bush met with Chol-Hwan earlier this year.


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