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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Calculated Risks., November 4, 2012
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This review is from: Escape from North Korea: The Untold Story of Asia's Underground Railroad (Hardcover)
The 20th Century birthed many mad and cruel regimes, mixing and matching a familiar litany of horrors -- barbed wire, torture, war-mongering, official hatreds and paranoias, stale economic and political creeds in lieu of transcendent faith, hungry bellies, ugly buildings, concrete grey statues of monomaniacs, weapons of mass destruction -- in varying patterns and degrees of ferocity. For my money, the worst of the worst were the Nazis, the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, both of which lasted a few years, and the Kim Family House of Horrors, which has lasted half as long as hell, from whence it springs.

That is the background to this book. Escape from North Korea tells the story of those who try to escape from many different angles: the escape itself, hiding (mostly in China), the role Christians play in helping North Koreans get away, political escapees, South Korea's changing attitudes about its brothers and sisters, the difficulties of adjusting to freedom, the impact individual liberation may have on what is to be hoped with be a freer North Korea in the future. Kirkpatrick is not naive about any of this, recognizing the difficulty, for instance, of ill-educated slaves adjusting to a modern, free, technological society. She has done a thorough job of investigation, and while she chimes certain bells repeatedly -- such as the Christian connection, and her dislike of the South Korean "Sunshine Policy" -- all in all this is a richly informative and thoughtful account. Among other interesting scraps, one escapee noted that something she (he?) missed after leaving North Korea, was the dark sky at night.

As someone who has spent quite a bit of time in China, I am particularly happy to learn more about the role churches in China are playing in helping these lost souls. I can't imagine that even the most hard-boiled western atheist would deny that if anyone needs a little hope in their lives, its the people of North Korea.

One wonders about the wisdom of writing books like this, though. (Like David Aikman's equally skillful journalism in Jesus in Beijing, which I reviewed some years ago for Christianity Today.) Will the North Koreans get ahold of the information here, and use it to go after the good guys? Most likely Kirkpatrick wrote this book on the calculation that the good it may do, in encouraging China to treat its neighbors more humanely, and in encouraging westerners to support the efforts of those who help the North Koreans, will outweigh the dangers. I hope she's right.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 19, 2012 11:14:57 AM PST
You're forgetting the FARC Guerrillas here in Colombia

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 19, 2012 1:01:58 PM PST
Not so much forgetting, as don't know much about it. I do know a bit about the Sendero Luminoso in Peru, which would also be high on the list, though.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 19, 2012 4:09:10 PM PST
Then I recommend this book: Out of Captivity: Surviving 1,967 Days in the Colombian Jungle
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