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Escaping North Korea: Defiance and Hope in the World's Most Repressive Country Hardcover – July 29, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
[Kim's] intrepid effort to help four North Korean teenagers avoid arrest and repatriation on the journey from northern China to the British consulate in Shanghai is riveting, as is his insider knowledge of the perilous route refugees navigate across the borders of China, Laos and Thailand.
The power of Escaping North Korea stems from the stories Mr. Kim tells. During his four years in China, he met hundreds of escapees from the North. He reconstructs their tales—of the privations of daily existence in North Korea, of life on the lam in China—in heartbreaking detail. . . . There are many heroes in Mr. Kim's book, not least the author himself.
(The Wall Street Journal)
A portrait of modern North Korea by an awareness advocate who was granted special access to the country's isolationist circles shares inspirational stories by survivors of such tragedies as famine, sex-trafficking, and gulag torture. (Forecast Magazine)
Mike Kim focuses on the question why such a large number of North Koreans are seeking refuge in China. He describes their flight and their situation in China as well as the living conditions in North Korea, including the situation of Christians under the North Korean regime. Among their sufferings are the following: poverty, famine, unemployment, violence, alcoholism, theft, corruption, bribery, oppression, gambling, abuse, rape, human trafficking, child soldier slavery, etc. According to Kim, famine and the search of food is the most common reason why North Koreans defect. (International Journal for Religious Freedom)
Mike's embrace of the spartan and hazardous vocation of protecting North Korean refugees in China is nothing short of exceptional. His book offers a personal and compelling account of this life-and-death rescue operation for our cousins in the North. (Tim Peters, Helping Hands Korea)
It is impossible to read the remarkable stories of personal suffering, endurance, and courage in these pages without believing that more can and must be done to help the North Korean people. It is not bad strategy or poor diplomatic practice to place human rights at the top of our agenda with Pyongyang and to challenge the rest of the international community to do the same. (Michael J. Green, former special assistant to the president for national security affairs and senior director for Asian affairs, National Security Council)
This is an inspiring yet tragic study of the brave few in North Korea who have chosen to vote with their feet to leave the earth's most repressive regime. An important and accessible piece of work, it should be read by generalists and specialists alike. (Victor Cha, Georgetown University)
We hear about women refugees who suffer when sold as brides for rural Chinese farmers (a practice, incidentally, that involves many Chinese, not just Korean refugees, though this is not discussed), or who are sold into city brothels. We hear of children born to stateless North Korean mothers in China, who as a consequence are unable to attend school or obtain medical care. We hear that most refugees are sick when they cross the border. We gain insights into indoctrination and the mindset of North Koreans after six decades of socialist rule. We learn how refugees initially appear lifeless and rarely smile; that they are usually weak, thin, and malnourished; and so on. And it is here that the volume's strength resides. (Keith Howard Reviews)
Americans and other foreigners have also opened a window to the suffering of the North Korean people, including Mike Kim, a young Tae Kwon Do expert who opened a string of martial arts studios in China as cover to help North Koreans defect. His book, Escaping North Korea, is a stunning story of tragedy and heroism. (Michael Green, Georgetown University, on CNN Opinion)
Top Customer Reviews
Later in the book, he describes some of the work he does, getting North Korean refugees into friendly consulates, and smuggling them across China. While some of that had me gripping the edge of my seat, it didn't really give me any lasting knowledge about the country. The last chapter has a decent analysis about North Korea's future. One final note - people who do the sort of work the author does are really special and deserve recognition. Overall, I'd say this book does what it's supposed to. If you're looking for a treatise on international relations, you should look elsewhere, but for a personal account, from somebody who can answer the question "what are North Koreans really like?" you'll find this to be an excellent resource.
This book is about a person who did neither. He didn't go to North Korea. He didn't live there, he didn't experience, first hand, the horrors of living there, of the oppressiveness. He did, though, help those who did.
This is the story of Mike Kim, and his 4 years helping those who most need the help. It was shocking to read that many who defect from North Korea want to willingly go back. It was also surprising to me to read about the peoples struggles, and China's role. I didn't realize that China, and their policies, were in a way contributing to the problem.
There were parts that I skimmed over. There is a lot of quoting from other people, not the defectors, but other people helping those who defect, or who have studied it.
There were also parts that, when you read the whole book, seem...odd. The part about most of North Koreans being on meth? Yet no mention of how they overcome their addiction to the drug - or how this poor country can afford meth, even to make it.
Overall though, it was fascinating to read about Crossing Borders NK and the work they do. Yes, it is Christian heavy if you aren't into that. But that is part of Crossing Borders (the group that Mike Kim was a part of during those 4 years). And the work they are doing with North Korean children who are now in China is so heartwarming.
This is a wonderful book....Read more ›
The second half of the book somewhat shifts focus to the Crossing Borders organization, which helped refugees in China. This is slightly less interesting, and because it's a Christian organization, is written from the perspective of and many times about Christian helpers and refugees. Little is discussed about other forms of religious persecution in North Korea, though they surely must exist.
Despite that, the Christian aspect is written matter-of-factly, without a "BELIEVE WHAT WE BELIEVE, READER" element to it. It's simply written from that perspective.
I would say the 1st half of the book is 5 stars, while the 2nd half is 3 1/2 stars. But I would recommend this to anybody who's interested in the world's most isolated and oppressive country.
If you are looking for a dramatic read, this isn't you you. It hits a weird spot where it is mostly informative, but not in an empirical sense, more of a "satisfying your curiosity" kind of way.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Only recommended if you've read all the other books on North Korea. Written from a very right-wing and religious point of view. Read morePublished 7 months ago by peterj
Too long and not as well organized as I expected. There were a lot of examples and stories about people, but often (usually) with little analysis or follow up. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Helen M.
about the culture and the regime , but at times hes so repetitive they stole because they were hungry , because they were hungry they stole, all in the same paragrgh,, easy... Read morePublished on October 26, 2013 by anna obuck