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I’ve read several accounts of escaping from North korea. This is a good one because it covers several subjects that are not covered in other books. For example hyeonseo grew up right on the border next to the Yalu river. There is extensive discussion of cross border smuggling in the book as her mother and other relatives were participants in this trade. Being so close to the border they could also get Chinese cell phone service and calls could be made to North Korea using Chinese cells. The other thing that is quite different about her story is that she spend more than a decade in China and was continually hiding from being discovered as an illegal therr. In one period she mentioned to others that she was from North Korea and its clear somebody reported her. She withstood an interrogation by the Chinese police and was able to convince them she was Chinese due to her ability to speak Mandarin and her mastery of Chinese Characters, which she attributes to her father pushing her to study while she was in school.
She has dangerous interactions with gangs, which she survives, was assaulted badly by an unknown assailant with a 1 liter beer bottle, an incident that did put her in the hospital and other adventures. One learns a bit about China and North Korea in this book. She has relatives which span several classes of North Korean society and one can get a feeling for what those strata are like. She also talks about the great amount of indoctrination she received during her education, of course this is common among the accounts of DPRK defectors.

Different that most of the defectors books she does describe the challenges facing defectors in South Korea. Their education is worthless and hence most of them severely struggle to obtain a college degree, which is important in South Korea. she also describes the process by which they vet defectors as well as the interrogation techniques of the Chinese police.

Once she has made it to South Korea she brings her mother and brother out of North Korea. This activity has several difficult twists which meant that the plan had to change in major ways on the fly and the challenges of getting through China to another country to defect to a South Korean embassy are shown. They chose Laos, a backwater whose insufferable bureaucracy and corrupt civil service made things hard. A very helpful Australian saves the day.
The story is interesting and one learns a fair bit about North Korea and China.

The Girl With Seven Names Epub

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
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.

About the Author

Hyeonseo Lee grew up in North Korea but escaped to China in 1997. In 2008, after more than 10 years there, she came to Seoul, South Korea, where she struggled to adjust to life in the bustling city. Recently graduated from Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, she has become a regular speaker on the international stage fostering human rights and awareness of the plight of North Koreans. She is an advocate for fellow refugees, even helping close relatives leave North Korea. Her TED talk has been viewed nearly 4 million times. She is married to her American husband Brian Gleason and currently lives in South Korea.

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