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Under the Same Sky: From Starvation in North Korea to Salvation in America Hardcover – June 2, 2015
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—Wall Street Journal
“Vital to our understanding of life in North Korea.”
"There's something riveting about his honesty; he portrays the bleak conditions, dwindling resources, eternal uncertainty, and loss of dignity with an unashamed matter-of-factness almost at odds with the desperate circumstances...Kim's tale is a vital insight into a little-understood country and a modern day tragedy."
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
Top Customer Reviews
When Joseph was about 13 years old he was homeless because his father died in the great famine and his mother, after selling his sister as a “bride slave” in China, abandoned him because she was a “burden.” Homeless, Joseph went from begging to stealing to survive.
He explains, “I became a different person when I became homeless. For one thing I was shocked to learn I was a better thief than I was a beggar.” He then explains how this happened naturally as if his body knew what to do when hunger reached a certain point. He says, “I don’t remember any moral debate about whether stealing was wrong.”
Joseph is a good man driven to steal to survive in a world where death was all to common. He is much kinder to his mother than I would have been. I was happy when he found his way to freedom.
I recently read and reviewed on Amazon another book called “A Thousand Miles To Freedom” written by Eunsun Kim who escaped North Korea with her mother and sister. While both books have some similarities and both are recommended I found Joseph Kim’s book more informative about what life was like for the average North Korean before, during and after the great famine. His time homeless and stealing to survive and his time in a forced labor camp tells a lot about Joseph and the conditions people faced.
This is an important book considering the lack of information about life in North Korea. It is also an important record of what Joseph Kim, a good man, had to do to survive.
Joseph Kim is brutally honest in his memoir from the start. He's his father's only son and was always treated with more reverence when compared to his older sister. Even his older sister shared her food with him and he always expected to be given special treatment because of his gender.
Life in North Korea as a young child started out well. There was love and parental security at first, although there are hints of his parents struggling with the marriage. But when the family endures the famine in North Korea in the late 1990s, things start to change for Joseph. He becomes just one more mouth to feed among his relatives and becomes a burden. His poor school grades and his gambling habits further disappoint his father, who had until the famine been rewarded well with a decent job and income.
His writing is easy to follow, and the short chapters end with a somewhat suspenseful statement hinting that things would get worse and worse until he finally does escape the nightmare that is North Korea.
Most of the narrative bogs down not about Christianity, or about how he found his faith, it's about the inhumane suffering of the North Koreans that he experienced while still in the country. This story is not just a Christian story, this is a story about survival and coming to realize that the North Korean government and its leaders don't care about its people.Read more ›
This book will have a broad appeal to both the secular reader and possibly a Christian reader. I selected this book as a Christian reader, because the snippet of a teaser I read said something about the author meeting Christians who took him in and changed his life... so I was going into the book hoping for something along these lines. I think this is the only area where the book disappointed me. The Christian angle was downplayed a great deal. It only manifests at the very end, and it certainly is not focal point. We don't hear much about how transforming his faith was at all. Maybe the little bit they did mention will be enough for some Christian readers, and not too much for the secular readers to be put off. But I only mention it because, if like me you were hoping for a more in depth look at how faith transforms someone who has never heard about Jesus - this will not be that book.
That aside I would still encourage you to read this book, it's still a great story and an important one to be told.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
By the time I got to this book, I thought I had heard all I could hear of North Korean escapees, having read so many books. Read morePublished 1 day ago by miznic
The perspective here should be a requirement for sheltered Americans! Thank you for sharing your story! History IS told in stories....Published 3 days ago by Aaron
Under the Same Sky is a harrowing but beautiful memoir of growing up in North Korea during the famine that began in the early 90s. Read morePublished 7 days ago by VioletandRye
I really liked the book and the richly detailed personal history Joseph Kim recounts of his time growing up in North Korea. Read morePublished 10 days ago by CBlum
Just finished this book. It was so interesting, I couldn't wait to read it every night and also couldn't put it down till the book fell. Read morePublished 1 month ago by S. Chisholm
"Under the Same Sky" by Joseph Kim brought me to tears. It was horrifying to read about his life and the unimaginable suffering of the North Korean people. Read morePublished 1 month ago by RL Paglia
Powerful and stirring. Makes me want to do something to help!! So hard to believe this is happening in 2016.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Not exactly a great piece of literature, but a very worthwhile read. Our bookclub is very glad we read it. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Bob