In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom by Yeonmi Park
Publisher: Penguin Books
Human rights activist Park, who fled North Korea with her mother in 2007 at age 13 and eventually made it to South Korea two years later after a harrowing ordeal, recognized that in order to be "completely free," she had to confront the truth of her past. It is an ugly, shameful story of being sold with her mother into slave marriages by Chinese brokers, and although she at first tried to hide the painful details when blending into South Korean society, she realized how her survival story could inspire others. Moreover, her sister had also escaped earlier and had vanished into China for years, prompting the author to go public with her story in the hope of finding her sister.
North Korea Confidential: Private Markets, Fashion Trends, Prison Camps, Dissenters and Defectors by Daniel Tudor
Publisher: Tuttle Publishing
**Named one of the best books of 2015 by The Economist** Private Markets, Fashion Trends, Prison Camps, Dissenters and Defectors. North Korea is one of the most troubled societies on earth. The country's 24 million people live under a violent dictatorship led by a single family, which relentlessly pursues the development of nuclear arms, which periodically incites risky military clashes with the larger, richer, liberal South, and which forces each and every person to play a role in the "theater state" even as it pays little more than lip service to the wellbeing of the overwhelming majority. With this profoundly anachronistic system eventually failed in the 1990s, it triggered a famine that decimated the countryside and obliterated the lives of many hundreds of thousands of people. However, it also changed the lives of those who survived forever. A lawless form of marketization came to replace the iron rice bowl of work in state companies, and the Orwellian mind control of the Korean Workers' Party was replaced for many by dreams of trade and profit. A new North Korea Society was born from the horrors of the era—one that is more susceptible to outside information than ever before with the advent of k-pop and video-carrying USB sticks. This is the North Korean society that is described in this book. In seven fascinating chapters, the authors explore what life is actually like in modern North Korea today for the ordinary "man and woman on the street." They interview experts and tap a broad variety of sources to bring a startling new insider's view of North Korean society—from members of Pyongyang's ruling families to defectors from different periods and regions, to diplomats and NGOs with years of experience in the country, to cross-border traders from neighboring China, and textual accounts appearing in English, Korean and Chinese sources. The resulting stories reveal the horror as well as the innovation and humor which abound in this fascinating country.
Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West by Blaine Harden
Publisher: Penguin Books
Presents a dramatic account by one of the few survivors born in North Korea's infamous political prison camps, describing the brutal conditions he was forced to endure as a child, his witnessing of his family's executions, and his final, harrowing escape.
Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick
Publisher: Random House
Follows the lives of six North Koreans over fifteen years, a chaotic period that saw the rise to power of Kim Jong Il and the devastation of a famine that killed one-fifth of the population, illustrating what it means to live under the most repressive totalitarian regime today.
History of Korea: A Captivating Guide to Korean History, Including Events Such as the Mongol Invasions, the Split into North and South, and the Korean War by Captivating History
Publisher: Captivating History
The Korean Peninsula today is divided into two, but there was a time when this peninsula was divided into many states. Over the course of time, and besieged by expansive transient dynasties outside of this modest piece of land, many clans and tribes overran their lands.
The Girl with Seven Names: Escape from North Korea by Hyeonseo Lee
Publisher: William Collins
An extraordinary insight into life under one of the world s most ruthless and secretive dictatorships and the story of one woman s terrifying struggle to avoid capture/repatriation and guide her family to freedom. As a child growing up in North Korea, Hyeonseo Lee was one of millions trapped by a secretive and brutal communist regime. Her home on the border with China gave her some exposure to the world beyond the confines of the Hermit Kingdom and, as the famine of the 1990s struck, she began to wonder, question and to realise that she had been brainwashed her entire life. Given the repression, poverty and starvation she witnessed surely her country could not be, as she had been told the best on the planet ? Aged seventeen, she decided to escape North Korea. She could not have imagined that it would be twelve years before she was reunited with her family. She could not return, since rumours of her escape were spreading, and she and her family could incur the punishments of the government authorities involving imprisonment, torture, and possible public execution. Hyeonseo instead remained in China and rapidly learned Chinese in an effort to adapt and survive. Twelve years and two lifetimes later, she would return to the North Korean border in a daring mission to spirit her mother and brother to South Korea, on one of the most arduous, costly and dangerous journeys imaginable. This is the unique story not only of Hyeonseo s escape from the darkness into the light, but also of her coming of age, education and the resolve she found to rebuild her life not once, but twice first in China, then in South Korea. Strong, brave and eloquent, this memoir is a triumph of her remarkable spirit."
Dear Leader: My Escape from North Korea by Jang Jin-sung
Publisher: 37 Ink
"In this rare insider's view into contemporary North Korea, a high-ranking counterintelligence agent describes his life as a former poet laureate to Kim Jong-il and his breathtaking escape to freedom. "The General will now enter the room." Everyone turns to stone. Not moving my head, I direct my eyes to a point halfway up the archway where Kim Jong-il's face will soon appear... As North Korea's State Poet Laureate, Jang Jin-sung led a charmed life. With food provisions (even as the country suffered through its great famine), a travel pass, access to strictly censored information, and audiences with Kim Jong-il himself, his life in Pyongyang seemed safe and secure. But this privileged existence was about to be shattered. When a strictly forbidden magazine he lent to a friend goes missing, Jang Jin-sung must flee for his life. Never before has a member of the elite described the inner workings of this totalitarian state and its propaganda machine. An astonishing expose; told through the heart-stopping story of Jang Jin-sung's escape to South Korea, Dear Leader is a rare and unprecedented insight into the world's most secretive and repressive regime"--
Destiny: The Secret Operations of the Yodogō Exiles by Kōji Takazawa
Publisher: University of Hawaii Press
In 1970, nine members of a Japanese New Left group called the Red Army Faction hijacked a domestic airliner to North Korea with dreams of acquiring the military training to bring about a revolution in Japan. The North Korean government accepted the hijackers—who became known in the media as the Yodogō group, based on the name of the hijacked plane—and two years later they announced their conversion to juche, North Korea’s new political ideology. Little was heard from the exiles until 1988, when a member of Yodogō was unexpectedly arrested in Japan, and communications with the group opened up in the context of his trial. As a former Red Army Faction member, journalist Kōji Takazawa made several trips to North Korea, re-established his ties to the group’s leader Takamaro Tamiya, and helped to publish the group’s writings in Japan. After Kim Il Sung revealed that Yodogō members had Japanese wives, Takazawa published a book of interviews with the women, but in the process became suspicious about the romantic stories they told. He also wondered about the members who were missing, and learned more details in long, private conversations with Tamiya. After Tamiya’s sudden death in 1995, Takazawa launched his own investigation of what the group had actually been doing for two decades, even traveling to Europe to follow traces there. An example of superb investigative journalism, Destiny: The Secret Operations of the Yodogō Exiles offers Kōji Takazawa's powerful story of how he exposed the Yodogō group’s involvement in the kidnapping and luring of several young Japanese to North Korea, as well as the truth behind their Japanese wives’ presence in the country. Takazawa's careful research was validated in 2002, when the North Korean government publicly acknowledged it had kidnapped thirteen Japanese citizens during the 1970s and 1980s, including three people whom Takazawa had connected to the Yodogō hijackers. Embedded in his pursuit toward what truly happened to the Yodogō members is Takazawa’s personal reflection of the 1970s, a decade when radical student activism swept Japan, and what it meant to those whose lives were forever changed.
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