The author tried to describe the sufferings of North Koreans But she bloated the book with some unnecessary descriptions Plus poor writing style Anyway, for above those I ll give this book 3 Another star to encourage people to read this book only to learn about North Koreans sufferings Total 4 star. Do not waste your time with this poorly written book It centers on the stories of men and women who take on enormous risk to help North Korean citizens escape illegally to China and then to South Korea where they receive full citizenship, passports, and classes and funds to help them integrate into regular society Ok, that is all fine and good However, Kirkpatrick focuses ONLY on the work of Christian missionaries and seems confident that they are the only people who care about DPRK refugees, and she talks at length about how many refugees convert to Christianitywhich just smacks me wrong Are you missionaries trying to help people escape the world s most dangerous despot Or are you trying to increase your ranks by indoctrinating men, women, and children who have been indoctrinated their entire life and in many cases are unable to make basic choices or follow elementary logic due to a lack of ever been taught or allowed to think for themselves Kirkpatrick s views on North Korean women who are sold as brides to Chinese men is appalling, and she calls the children from these marriages half and half children, like they are some kind of dairy product She ALWAYS calls them half and half.and it just.no That s not okay They are Korean Chinese or Chinese Korean, not half and half Kirkpatrick s theme for the book is comparing these Christian missionaries to the men and women in the United States who helped black slaves escape to freedom on the Underground Railroad She includes quotes from American conductors and passangers of the 1850 s at the beginning of every chapter But Kirkpatrick never makes the jump that the North Korean citizens are actually treated in many ways the same as American slaves, they are in effect enslaved by their own country, with the Party and the Kim dynasty playing the role of Master The lack of education, the labor and prison camps, the lack of nutrition and basic services and human rights all line up with slavery, but Kirkpatrick never makes that jump In fact, very little of her writing has anything to do with the North Korean refugees themselves, but only on the stories of their rescuers Which is important, I m not trying to discount the risky work these men and women undertake, but it feels flat and one sided when you don t include detailed stories about the people who ALSO are undertaking enormous risk to leave North Korea If they are caught and sent back they will be put in a work camp or gulag which rival the concentration camps in Europe in terms of conditions, quality of life, and mortality rate Read Nothing to Envy or Escape from Camp 14 instead This one is not worth your time. From The World S Most Repressive State Comes Rare Good News The Escape To Freedom Of A Small Number Of Its People It Is A Crime To Leave North Korea Yet Increasing Numbers Of North Koreans Dare To Flee They Go First To Neighboring China, Which Rejects Them As Criminals, Then On To Southeast Asia Or Mongolia, And Finally To South Korea, The United States, And Other Free Countries They Travel Along A Secret Route Known As The New Underground RailroadWith A Journalist S Grasp Of Events And A Novelist S Ear For Narrative, Melanie Kirkpatrick Tells The Story Of The North Koreans Quest For Liberty Travelers On The New Underground Railroad Include Women Bound To Chinese Men Who Purchased Them As Brides, Defectors Carrying State Secrets, And POWs From The Korean War Held Captive In The North For Than Half A Century Their Conductors Are Brokers Who Are In It For The Money As Well As Christians Who Are In It To Serve God The Christians See Their Mission As The Liberation Of North Korea One Person At A TimeJust As Escaped Slaves From The American South Educated Americans About The Evils Of Slavery, The North Korean Fugitives Are Informing The World About The Secretive Country They Fled Escape From North Korea Describes How They Also Are Sowing The Seeds For Change Within North Korea Itself Once They Reach Sanctuary, The Escapees Channel News Back To Those They Left Behind In Doing So, They Are Helping To Open Their Information Starved Homeland, Exposing Their Countrymen To Liberal Ideas, And Laying The Intellectual Groundwork For The Transformation Of The Totalitarian Regime That Keeps Their Fellow Citizens In Chains Escape from North Korea is the most intriguing non fiction book I ve read in recent months Kirkpatrick offers a glimpse into the operations of a modern day underground railroad, one thats stories sadly are often no less chilling than those associated with its US Civil War namesake from 150 years ago.The 17 chapters of this book are arranged into six parts The organizational logic of the book takes the reader from the germ of an idea to flee all the way to settling into life in a free country, with all the trials and tribulations that are experienced in between It begins as a story of one person who decides to escape, and who must virtually always get across the border into China on his or her own Once across the border, there is help to be had if the refugee can find it before he or she gets caught by the Chinese and repatriated or is exploited by nefarious individuals Danger is ever present, occasionally even once the individual gets to South Korea Chapters 3 through 7 were particularly interesting because they looked at various classes of escapee, some of which one might not realize existed It starts with the classic defectors, similar to those one might associate with the USSR political, military, sporting, and artistic figures This was the main class of refugee until people began starving in the 1990 s due to nation wide famine Next is a chapter on brides for sale Many North Korean women end up forced into slave marriages China has a dearth of eligible women due a bias against female children, particularly combined with its one child policy Some women are lured across the border under false pretenses, but others, finding themselves fugitives in China, end up being exploited due to their vulnerability Each bride fetches about 1,200 to 1,500 500 to 800 from the wholesaler to the retailer There s also a chapter devoted to the children of such marriages, and particularly the cases in which the mother is repatriated and the child ends up orphaned because children born in China will not be taken by the North Koreans and frequently the fathers want nothing to do with the children Pregnant women repatriated to North Korea are often forced to abort pregnancies involving Chinese fathers One of the most intriguing chapters was on the North Korean lumberjacks residing in Siberia This profit sharing deal goes back to the Soviet days When the Soviet Union imploded, however, the arrangement was kept with some worker rights installed on paper to appease Russia s newly developed human rights watchdogs One might wonder how the Kims fearful of dissidents as they are would let a group live outside the country on a remote site that s hard to guard The answer is that all the lumberjacks had to have both wives and children at home to serve as hostages Still, some decide to make the break There is also a chapter about the Prisoners of War from the Korean War who were trapped on the wrong side of the border I m fairly well read on the subject of North Korea, but, like most Americans, the bulk of this has to do with Pyongyang s nuclear program I, therefore, found some of the stories of the regime s depravity to be beyond the pale A sampling of such stories includes guards severely beating a prisoner and then having other prisoners bury the victim alive the warden in a state run orphanage having orphans fight each other for bigger food servings a family that killed themselves rather than be repatriated to North Korea individuals, such as Ri Hyok ok, who were executed for distributing bibles North Korea s provision of family information on trans border family members as a profit making scheme Kim Jong Il pulling a Pol Pot and shutting down the universities and colleges and sending students to work on farms and in factories for months in 2011 because he was afraid that the Arab Spring might be infectious Kidnapping foreigners on foreign soil, which North Korea has even admitted to openly Sadly, the woeful tales aren t limited to the North Koreans Kirkpatrick devotes a considerable amount of space to chastising the Chinese for repatriating North Koreans Under international law, which China ratified, refugees shouldn t be sent back to their country of origin if it s likely they will be punished China claims that individuals are economic migrants and not political refugees, and it compares them to Mexicans crossing onto American soil without addressing the fact that Mexicans are not sentenced to hard labor or killed when they are returned to Mexico The Chinese might also point to Hwang Jang yop, the author of the North Korean Juche self reliance policy, as an example of a true political refugee that they didn t repatriate, but allowed to migrate to South Korea where the North Koreans tried to assassinate him in Seoul several times There s even some disappointing behavior on the side of the US In 2006, a US consulate employee in China not only turned away several North Korea refugees, but by speaking openly over an unsecured line got a conductor on the Underground Railroad arrested The end of the book contains an interesting description of how the Kims are beginning to lose the war on keeping the information age out of North Korea From balloon drops to radio broadcasts, North Koreans are beginning to get true information about both the outside world and their own leadership Lest one think that no one could possibly believe the propaganda out of Pyongyang, even in the absence of information inflows, there s a story about an immigrant to America who had a hard time coaxing his family out because they believed that America was out to kill North Koreans This father s story of the good life in sunny Florida didn t entirely convince them, and ultimately they had to be coaxed to their new home in stages It s telling that the cellphone was only introduced in North Korea in 2008 While cellphones aren t that useful for the railroad because they can t call outside the country, they do allow for some spread of information inside.One might think that once a North Korean gets to freedom, everything is hunky dory, but Kirkpatrick discusses the problems that most North Koreans have adjusting to life in South Korea As workers, North Koreans tend to lack initiative They just want to be told what to do, and will do no It s not that they re inherently lazy they come from a world in which initiative is not rewarded but is often punished While it may be hard to believe, most of the emigrants have trouble coping with the massive amount of choice available in their new homelands Having an entire aisle of the market devoted to laundry detergent overwhelms them Apparently, a few very few have even snuck themselves back into North Korea where all they have to do is do what they re told, eat what they can, and maybe starve to death I think this is an important book that should be read by anyone interested in world affairs North Korea is truly unique in the world One telling line from the book was, Even during the Communist era, Russia was liberal and prosperous than North Korea The continuance of the Kim Dynasty is an unstable proposition, and it s impossible to know when it will fall and what damage will be done internationally when it does. This is a general book about the method North Koreans use to escape to China, a nd then often to a second country before reaching South Korea The author tells many different survivor stories, and gives an overview of the various aid groups and NGOs working to get poeple out of North Korea and help them resettle elsewhere The author spends a lot of time discussing Christian missionaries, who do rescue and aid North Koreans, but also do a lot of prosletyizing, which is uncomfortable reading to someone like me who is not Christian or thinks that the whole idea of missionizing to a distressed population is something that should have been left behind centuries ago The book is also hopeful for the future than I would be, especially because since it was written, Kim Jung Un has worked with China to crack down hard on escapees. I was expecting a hard hitting overview of North Korean policy, escapees stories of their lives in North Korea and what it takes for then to adapt to life in other parts of the world Sadly, all this book is is a really strange but of religious propaganda with bits about North Korea mixed in I m going to try to return it today I have never returned a booked DO NOT BOTHER WITH THIS BOOK AT ALL And if you do please don t pay any money for it Just awful. This book taught me so much about not just North Korea but the entire Korean Peninsula and the surrounding area Prior to reading this book, I tended to avoid news about North Korea and it s nuclear program because the thought of nuclear war is nothing but depressing Now I see beyond North Korea s fanatical family dictatorship to it s people and their serious oppression under the Kim Jong Un rule and being entire cut off from the modern world and potential family members in South Korea since the end of the Korean War I m very happy that there are those who are making efforts to get people out of North Korea as it sounds reform from within is nearly impossible under the oppressive regime The book also causes me to be much skeptical of efforts by Kim Jong Un to engage in talks with other world leaders. Very good insight to the reckless and brutal Kim family but was too preachy advocating for Christianity At points seemed to be preaching to the reader rather than describing the plight of North Korean refugees. This book is written with the skill and heart of a story teller and equally so with the scholar s unshakable regard for facts A former Wall Street Journal deputy editor who has spent years living in Asia, Kirkpatrick develops solid arguments for ways to change a country that is frozen in time Because of her credentials and the story she tells so well, her ideas are certain to command the attention of policy makers But beyond Washington and New York, many readers may be moved to act once they ve read the harrowing narratives, the descriptions of ordinary souls bravely helping others, once they ve read Kirkpatrick s careful portrait of a grotesque and unimaginably cruel regime. Of all the books I have read on North Korea, this was by far the worst If you read only one book on North Korea, DO NOT read this one.The idea of writing about N Korean refugees is nothing new, what this book could have added was a detailed examination of the method and means of escape and those who help facilitate escape and transfer of refugees from North Korea China to third countries and then onward to South Korea or elsewhere Unfortunately the book spends an inordinate amount of time talking about various religious and Christian aspects of the new underground railroad I cannot help but wonder if the author was motivated to write such a book based on a christian religious ideology.
Is a well-known author, some of his books are a fascination for readers like in the Escape from North Korea book, this is one of the most wanted Melanie Kirkpatrick author readers around the world.
- 376 pages
- Escape from North Korea
- Melanie Kirkpatrick
- 15 January 2019 Melanie Kirkpatrick