North Korean prison escapee admits inaccuracies in his story

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North Korean Prison Escapee Admits Inaccuracies in His Story

A key North Korean human rights activists now says his story that's captivated millions has a few inaccuracies.

Shin Dong-hyuk's apparent years-long torture, the execution of his brother and mother and his eventual escape from a harsh North Korean concentration camp was the subject of best-selling 2012 book "Escape from Camp 14" - authored by former Washington Post writer Blaine Harden.

While Shin does say his story is mostly true, he admits there are a few inaccuracies in it.

Shin said via The Washington Post, "When I agreed to share my experience for the book, I found it was too painful to think about some of the things that happened. So I made a compromise in my mind. I altered some details that I thought wouldn't matter. I didn't want to tell exactly what happened in order not to relive these painful moments all over again."

Shin was actually transferred to a different camp, Camp 18, when he was about 6 years old. In the book, Shin recalls all the events taking place in Camp 14. He also admits he escaped from camp twice before, but was caught. He also says he was held underground, burned and tortured at age 20 for escaping - not at age 13 as the book states.

Shin has received numerous awards for his bravery and has also spoken on United Nations panels about the atrocities of North Korean prison camps.

The New York Times writes this admission could hinder an already difficult campaign to get a formal International Criminal Court investigation of North Korea's prison camps. An unidentified former Camp 18 prisoner also tells the outlet Shin is still lying: "You just cannot escape a North Korean prison camp twice, as he said he did, and is still alive and manages to escape a third time, this time from the total-control zone."

North Korea's government has already tried to discredit Shin's claims, posting a video titled "Lie and Truth," which features Shin's father saying his son was lying and never lived in a prison camp.

The Washington Post attributes Shin as being "the only person known to have escaped from one of North Korea's total-control zones" and is sticking by Shin, quoting a human rights executive director as saying, "The critical points of the book remain true."

The revelations come after Harden heard Shin had told friends a different account of his time in the camps and his escape. It's still unclear if "Escape from Camp 14" will be pulled from store shelves.

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North Korean prison escapee admits inaccuracies in his story
Escaped prisoner from North Korean Internment Camp 14 Shin Dong-Hyuk speaks during a conversation on 'America's Role in Promoting Democracy and Human Rights ' at the 2012 Foreign Policy Initiative Forum in Washington on November 27, 2012. AFP PHOTO/Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 10: North Korea refugee and human rights activist Shin Dong-hyuk speaks during a rally outside the White House while demonstrationg for human rights in North Korea July 10, 2012 in Washington, DC. In 2005, Shin, 30, was the first person to have escaped from a 'total-control zone' grade internment camp, called Camp #14, in North Korea and live to tell about the experience. Shin now lives in South Korea and works to raise awareness about North Korean internment and concentration camps. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
In this Sept. 21, 2014 photo, North Korean defector Choi Jung-hoon, center, listens as North Korean democracy activist Park Sang-hak, right, speaks before they release balloons carrying leaflets and banners condemning North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his government's policies during a rally against North Korea in Paju, near the border with North Korea, South Korea. One recent survey by a Seoul civic group of about 400 defectors suggested that one in every two defector families in the South send home money. “Even though we have very small incomes here, we still eat rice at every meal,” Choi said. “If we don’t buy new clothes, we can save some money to send to our family members in the North. That’s a lot of money for them.” (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joo)
In this Sept. 21, 2014 photo, North Korean defectors prepare to release balloons to let them fly to the North, carrying leaflets and banners condemning North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his government's policies during a rally against North Korea in Paju, near the border with North Korea, South Korea. One recent survey by a Seoul civic group of about 400 defectors suggested that one in every two defector families in the South send home money, mostly between 500,000 won ($470) and 3 million won ($2,820) per year. They do this even though most defectors struggle to make a living in the highly competitive, well-educated South: Their average monthly wage is about 1.4 million won ($1,320), about half the pay of an average South Korean worker. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joo)
In this Sept. 21, 2014 photo, North Korean defectors prepare to release balloons to let them fly to the North, carrying leaflets and banners condemning North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his government's policies during a rally against North Korea in Paju, near the border with North Korea, South Korea. The writing on the balloons and banners reads "End the world's worst three generation dictatorship and Down with Kim Jong Un." One recent survey by a Seoul civic group of about 400 defectors suggested that one in every two defector families in the South send home money, mostly between 500,000 won ($470) and 3 million won ($2,820) per year. They do this even though most defectors struggle to make a living in the highly competitive, well-educated South: Their average monthly wage is about 1.4 million won ($1,320), about half the pay of an average South Korean worker. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
Former North Korean defectors prepare to release balloons to let them fly to the North, carrying leaflets and banners condemning North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his government's policies, during a rally against North Korea in Paju, near the border with North Korea, South Korea, Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014. The writing on the balloons and banner reads " Down with Kim Jong Un." (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
Former North Korean defectors release balloons carrying leaflets and banners condemning North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his government's policies during a rally against North Korea in Paju, near the border with North Korea, in South Korea, Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
Former North Korean defectors release balloons carrying leaflets and banners condemning North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his government's policies during a rally against North Korea in Paju, near the border with North Korea, in South Korea, Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
North Korean defectors carry to release a balloon to let it fly to the North, carrying chocolate pies and cookies during a rally against the North's recent threat at the Imjingak Pavilion near the border village of Panmunjom (DMZ) that separates the two Koreas since the Korean War, in Paju, South Korea, Wednesday, July 30, 2014. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
North Korean defectors and South Korean activists prepare to release balloons to let them fly to the North, carrying chocolate pies and cookies during a rally against the North's recent threat at the Imjingak Pavilion near the border village of Panmunjom (DMZ) that separates the two Koreas since the Korean War, in Paju, South Korea, Wednesday, July 30, 2014. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
South Korean Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae, center, cheers with North Korean defectors, refugees and their family members during a ceremony to celebrating the Lunar New Year at the Imjingak Pavilion, near the border village of Panmunjom, in Paju, north of Seoul, South Korea, Friday, Jan. 31, 2014. South Korea on Monday proposed that the rival Koreas restart arranging reunions next month for families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War. But still, the North Korea kept silent on South Korea's offer. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
This is a undated photo of Hwang Jang Yop, a close confident of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, center, and his wife, Park Seung Ok, wearing glass and his son Hwang Kyung Mu, left, and son's wife, standing. Hwang is seeking asylum at Beijing's, South Korean Consulate. In a statement released by the South Koreans, Hwang said he decided to defect to help reconcile the two Koreas. (AP Photo/Naewoi Newspaper)
A North Korean defector burns an effigy of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and a North Korean flag during a rally to mark the the third anniversary of North Korea’s artillery attack on the Yeonpyeong island, in Seoul, South Korea, Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013. Four people, including two marines and two civilians, were killed by North Korea's attack. The banner read: "Hang Kim Jong Un, Strike Pyongyang and Get rid of pro-North ." (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
In this Nov. 9, 2013 photo, South Korean Kim Tae-hoon, center, performs with adolescent North Korean defectors during their concert "With Friend" at Mapo Art Center in Seoul, South Korea. Kim is rearing nine boys - all defectors from North Korea. Kim has given them their first real experience of family. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
Members of Korea Freedom Federation shout slogans during a rally to demand the safety of North Korean defectors, in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, June 4, 2013. Nine North Korean defectors have been forced to return to their country from China after being captured in Laos, a South Korean news report said. The blue signs read" Stop forced repatriation of North Koreans" and the red read "The international community should protect North Korean defectors together! " (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
A human right activist holds up a candle during a rally demanding the Laos government to guarantee the safety of nine of North Korean citizens who reportedly fled to Laos, in front of the Laotian Embassy in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, May 31, 2013. Nine North Korean defectors have been forced to return to their country from China after being captured in Laos, a South Korean news report says. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
A human right activist holds candles during a rally demanding the Laos government to guarantee the safety of nine of North Korean citizens who reportedly fled to Laos, in front of the Laotian Embassy in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, May 31, 2013. Nine North Korean defectors have been forced to return to their country from China after being captured in Laos, a South Korean news report says. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
In this picture taken on Wednesday, May 29, 2013, an unidentified North Korean defector takes a nap near the paintings wishing two Koreas reunification during a break time at the Hangyeore middle-high school in Anseong, south of Seoul, South Korea. North Korea's prison population has swelled in recent years with those caught fleeing the country under a crackdown on defections by young leader Kim Jong Un, according to defectors living in South Korea and researchers who study Pyongyang's notorious network of labor camps and detention centers. The letters read "Reunification and A journey of thousand miles begins with one step." (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
Helium balloons carrying leaflets against North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and their dictatorship, are launched by North Korean defectors and South Korean activists during an anti-North Korea rally denouncing North Korea's third nuclear test at the Imjingak Pavilion near the border village of Panmunjom, in Paju, north of Seoul, South Korea, Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013. They flew the 200,000 propaganda leaflets across the border to denounce the nuclear test and late leader Kim Jong Il's birthday on Saturday. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
North Korean defectors hold up candles while shouting slogans during a rally demanding the Chinese government to release North Korean refugees captured in China, in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, March 7, 2012. More than 100 North Korean defectors protested in anger over a treaty with Pyongyang that requires China to repatriate North Koreans who illegally enter the country. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
A woman wipes her tears during a rally against Chinese government deporting captured North Korean defectors back to North Korea, near the Chinese Embassy in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, March 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
A North Korean defector wipes his eye during a rally against the Chinese government's arrest of North Korean refugees, near the Chinese Embassy in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012. The protesters called for China not to send North Korean refugees back to their country, saying those refugees might be executed. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
South Korean activists and North Korean defectors shout slogans during a rally denouncing North Korea's genocide and crimes against humanity in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, Dec. 9, 2011. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
A South Korean conservative activist with a stick beats a portrait of the North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's youngest son Kim Jon Un during a rally against the North's succession and mourning the late North Korean defector Hwang Jang-yop in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Oct. 14, 2010. South Korea honored Hwang who once tutored autocratic leader Kim Jong Il at a funeral Thursday, praising his efforts to resolve rights abuses in his communist homeland. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
A former North Korean defector walks past near a poster showing a North Korean child suffering from famine during a rally North Koreans' famine and human rights violation in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, Sept. 11, 2009. North Korean defectors and South Koreans gather to demand two Koreas' unification. (AP Photo/ Lee Jin-man)
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