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The Aquariums of Pyongyang: Ten Years in the North Korean Gulag Paperback – August 24, 2005
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Top Customer Reviews
Kang Chol-Hwan has shared his amazing journey from one world to another. In order to share the reality of life under a loathsome, hateful regime that does nothing but systematically starve and kill its people, he risks the well-being of himself and loved ones. I read his story and was deeply moved. Being half a world away, it's difficult to fathom that such horrid injustices occur in our modern society.
I am a Korean-American and live a much more sheltered and protected life than many on this earth. I am deeply appreciative to my parent's for coming to the U.S. in order to give their children a better life. They were only children during the Korean War and had their fair share of hunger and hardships. They walked the long, death-ridden highway with the masses towards hopefully a better life in the South. They were among the fortunate. Many saw their families torn apart and kidnapped back to the North.
Reunification is inevitable. This seems to be the sentiments of many. It's only a matter of time before the North just can't hang on any longer without the help of its affluent sister in the south.
A great many thank you's to Mr. Kang for sharing his life.
In the past decade or so, there has been an explosion of Western interest in North Korea that has contributed substantially to a better understanding of P'yongyang's policy priorities and problems. Of particular note in this regard are two publications: "North Korea: Through the Looking Glass," an elegant and balanced study published by the Brookings Institute, and "Kim Il-song's North Korea," which presents the meticulously- detailed research undertaken by Helen Louise Hunter while she was still with the CIA. Both of these publications benefitted from the exploitation of defector information, but their homogenized findings still lack a sense of ground truth, and it is in this regards that Kang Chol-hwan's account of his life in North Korea is so valuable apart from its obvious importance on the human rights front.
"Aquariums of Pyongyang" provides a considerable body of anecdotal information that documents several trends which, North Korean government pronouncements make clear, are of increasing concern to the central government. These trends are rising hooliganism, especially on the part of youth gangs; rampant corruption and bribery in nearly all sectors of society; and a surprising underground use of currency (not always North Korean) in an economy that has traditionally been described as non-monetarized.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is one of many books I've read recently on Korea. It's not the best one I've read, but that's not to say it's not good either. Read morePublished 10 days ago by Erik
Beautifully written account of the horrors of a North Korean concentration camp. Not only do you learn of the personal trials of this young man, but the book contains a summary of... Read morePublished 12 days ago by J. Rinehart
Although somewhat dated, the Aquariums of Pyongyang is an important addition to the ever- growing body of literature describing abuses in North Korea. Read morePublished 23 days ago by Jack91
One of the first defector accounts, a bit dated but worth the read none the less.Published 2 months ago by Kelly from Ohio
it gives a very good idea about how North Korea works, how the people are under constant surveillance, and how any minor mistakes can cost you years in a forced labour camp... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Bruno Spellanzon