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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
From the Inside Flap
A searing story of starvation and survival in North Korea, followed by a dramatic escape, rescue by international activists, and success in the United States thanks to newfound faith and courage Inside the hidden and mysterious world of North Korea, Joseph Kim lived a young boy s normal life until he was five. Then disaster struck: the first wave of the Great Famine, a long, terrible ordeal that killed millions, including his father, and sent others, like his mother and only sister, on desperate escape routes into China. Alone on the streets, Joseph learned to beg and steal. He had nothing but a street-hardened survival instinct. Finally, in desperation, he too crossed a frozen river to escape to China. There a kindly Christian woman took him in, kept him hidden from the authorities, and gave him hope. Soon, through an underground network of activists, he was spirited to the American consulate and became one of just a handful of North Koreans to be brought to the United States as refugees. Joseph knew no English and had never been a good student. Yet the kindness of his foster family changed his life. Determined to succeed, he became a dedicated student, mastered English, and made it to college, where he is now thriving thanks to his faith and inner strength."Under the Same Sky "is an unforgettable story of suffering and redemption."
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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.
What I didn't like is the subtitle alluding to a Christian salvation experience. While he discusses his experiences with Christianity in China briefly, we are not privy to a salvation experience and upon arriving in America, there is no further mention of either God or Christianity, hence 4 stars v 5 stars.