The only person born in a North Korean labour camp to have escaped to the West has written an impassioned open letter to Dennis Rodman, a former US basketball star, asking him to use his influence with Kim Jong Un to make him "hear the cries of his people".

Shin Dong Hyuk's letter, published in the Washington Post, comes as Rodman heads to North Korea for five days to meet its leader for a third time and prepare for a basketball match billed as "The Big Bang in Pyongyang". The match is due to take place in January and will pit former US professional players against a team of North Koreans trained by Rodman.

Shin was born in Camp 14. "For more than 50 years, Kim Jong Un, his father and his grandfather have used prisons like Camp 14 to punish, starve and work to death people the regime decides are a threat," he wrote. "My crime was to be born as the son of a man whose brother fled to South Korea in the 1950s.

"People are starving in these camps. Others are being beaten, and someone soon will be publicly executed as a lesson to other prisoners to work hard and obey the rules." Shin escaped in January 2005 to China and then South Korea.


Rodman has previously dismissed calls to distance himself from the regime.