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Saturday, December 29, 2018

Memoir of Escape From North Korea as Fascinating as it is Horrifying

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

If you've heard Hyeonseo Lee's popular TED talk about her childhood in North Korea and her subsequent escape from the country, you have an idea of the harrowing things she experienced as a child and young woman.  In her memoir, The Girl with Seven Names, Lee tells her story in greater detail.  She talks about growing up in North Korea in a loving family, feeling secure and sheltered, not realizing how many of her countrymen suffered daily because of extreme government control, poverty, and ignorance.  As her eyes opened and things became more difficult at home, Lee desired escape.  At 17 years old, she snuck into China on a lark.  Tasting freedom for the first time, she remained in the country, hiding her true identity to avoid being deported.  Yearning to be reunited with her family, Lee then risked everything to get them out of North Korea.  Always fearful of discovery, she experienced constant worry as well as a personal crisis as "the girl with many names and no identity" (142) that affects her even today.  Now married to an American and living in South Korea, she has become a passionate spokesperson/activist for North Korean human rights as well as a sought-after speaker.  

Not knowing much about the plight of North Koreans, I found The Girl with Seven Names as fascinating as it is horrifying.  It's a chilling, matter-of-fact recounting of unbelievable oppression and suffering, the kind of thing most Americans can't even begin to imagine.  Although it's a quick read, it's an eye-opening one that is both gripping and inspiring.  If you're as ignorant as I was about what has gone on in North Korea, I definitely recommend picking up this moving, informative book.  

(Readalikes:  Hm, I can't think of anything.  Can you?)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (one F-bomb, plus milder expletives), violence, blood/gore, and references to illegal drug use, prostitution, rape, and other disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of The Girl With Seven Names from Amazon with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.

1 comment:

  1. I'll add this to my TBR list as I find North Korea pretty fascinating. You might also like to read Barbara Demick's Nothing to Envy.

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