Only a few scraps of information make their way across the barbed-wire borders of nations and ideologies that divide America from North Korea. Add the physical distance between us and it’s clear why we don’t automatically feel a kinship with people living in Pyongyang, Dong Chong-ri, or Wonsan. But A River in Darkness breathed life into the “enemy,” revealing warmth, humanity, and dignity in the face of a man we come to know well. Mr. Ishikawa has lost everything, but he holds out hope that at least one of his sons is alive—and that, perhaps, if more people know his story, his son might learn that his dad is alive and safe in Japan.
It is my hope that by sharing this story with you I will share the empathy that overwhelmed me while reading. What do we do with this newfound connection to our fellow human beings—those living next door as well as those living across the world? Perhaps we will all feel encouraged to promote peace in our neighborhoods, vote for things we believe in, reach out to those in need, and realize that there are always real people involved in current events—some of them fathers who go to bed each night dreaming of reconnecting with their sons.
- Gabriella Page-Fort, Editor