Cart

The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story PDF, ePub eBook


Hot Best Seller
Title: The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story
Author: Hyeonseo Lee
Publisher: Published July 2nd 2015 by William Collins
ISBN: 9780007554836
Status : FREE Rating :
4.6 out of 5

25362017-the-girl-with-seven-names.pdf

In order to read or download eBook, you need to create FREE account.
eBook available in PDF, ePub, MOBI and Kindle versions


reward
How to download?
FREE registration for 1 month TRIAL Account.
DOWNLOAD as many books as you like (Personal use).
CANCEL the membership at ANY TIME if not satisfied.
Join Over 150.000 Happy Readers.


An extraordinary insight into life under one of the world’s most ruthless and secretive dictatorships – and the story of one woman’s terrifying struggle to avoid capture/repatriation and guide her family to freedom. As a child growing up in North Korea, Hyeonseo Lee was one of millions trapped by a secretive and brutal totalitarian regime. Her home on the border with China An extraordinary insight into life under one of the world’s most ruthless and secretive dictatorships – and the story of one woman’s terrifying struggle to avoid capture/repatriation and guide her family to freedom. As a child growing up in North Korea, Hyeonseo Lee was one of millions trapped by a secretive and brutal totalitarian regime. Her home on the border with China gave her some exposure to the world beyond the confines of the Hermit Kingdom and, as the famine of the 1990s struck, she began to wonder, question and to realise that she had been brainwashed her entire life. Given the repression, poverty and starvation she witnessed surely her country could not be, as she had been told “the best on the planet”? Aged seventeen, she decided to escape North Korea. She could not have imagined that it would be twelve years before she was reunited with her family. She could not return, since rumours of her escape were spreading, and she and her family could incur the punishments of the government authorities – involving imprisonment, torture, and possible public execution. Hyeonseo instead remained in China and rapidly learned Chinese in an effort to adapt and survive. Twelve years and two lifetimes later, she would return to the North Korean border in a daring mission to spirit her mother and brother to South Korea, on one of the most arduous, costly and dangerous journeys imaginable. This is the unique story not only of Hyeonseo’s escape from the darkness into the light, but also of her coming of age, education and the resolve she found to rebuild her life – not once, but twice – first in China, then in South Korea. Strong, brave and eloquent, this memoir is a triumph of her remarkable spirit.

30 review for The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story

  1. 5 out of 5

    Hyeonseo Lee

    Thanks to everyone who voted in the 2015 #GoodreadsChoice Awards. Of course, I was hoping to win, but I'm still honored that I came in 4th place out of many good books. Wow!!! I never thought my memoir would make it to the FINAL round of the 2015 #GoodreadsChoice Award. Only ten books are left. Thank you so much to everyone who has read my book and supported me. https://www.goodreads.com/choiceaward... A huge honor. The Girl With Seven Names is nominated for a #GoodreadsChoice Award for Best Thanks to everyone who voted in the 2015 ‪#‎GoodreadsChoice‬ Awards. Of course, I was hoping to win, but I'm still honored that I came in 4th place out of many good books. Wow!!! I never thought my memoir would make it to the FINAL round of the 2015 ‪#‎GoodreadsChoice‬ Award. Only ten books are left. Thank you so much to everyone who has read my book and supported me. https://www.goodreads.com/choiceaward... A huge honor. ‪ The Girl With Seven Names‬ is nominated for a ‪#‎GoodreadsChoice‬ Award for Best Memoir & Autobiography! THANK YOU to all incredible The Girl With Seven Names readers who made this possible. *cries* *dances* Thank you to everyone who has voted or is planning to vote! https://www.goodreads.com/choiceaward...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sungeun Jin

    Full Disclosure: I am a South Korean and I have encountered with a number of readings, TED-talks, Youtube videos on life in North Korea, testimonies of North Korean defectors on horrific lives in our neighbor country. However, I found this book intriguing, unique and inspiring. What Hyeonseo offers in this book is quite different from other N.Korean defector's story. She's from a family with high class, had a relatively comfortable life to North Korean standard, and did not leave her country and Full Disclosure: I am a South Korean and I have encountered with a number of readings, TED-talks, Youtube videos on life in North Korea, testimonies of North Korean defectors on horrific lives in our neighbor country. However, I found this book intriguing, unique and inspiring. What Hyeonseo offers in this book is quite different from other N.Korean defector's story. She's from a family with high class, had a relatively comfortable life to North Korean standard, and did not leave her country and family with the intention of never going back and in search for freedom. It is the realities of the ruthless, harsh regime that twists her path back to her country and she is thrown into a new universe where she had to make her own way. With more candor than emotion, she tells how she found the new world with freedom was also a world full of challenges and hardships, and how she navigated them to find her way through and found her identity as herself. This book is also unique in a way it tells N. Koreans life in free countries can be challenging and not as rosy as many may simply imagine. How profound the propaganda is engraved in people's mind and perspectives, now the capitalistic life can be menacing, and how the sudden exposure to this unknown terrain could be as dangerous as to most defectors. All important topics and questions that deserve more attention among people in South Korea as host nations and be discussed to find better answers. All in all, I think this book is a must read. Whether you want to 1)learn about the world's most ruthless dictatorship regime and how it systematically abuse its power for the benefits of the few and most people suffer not knowing life could be different elsewhere, 2) like to be inspired by a young woman who had the strength to navigate through series of life-changing, often life-threatening challenges, preserve the belief in herself and love for family, reunite with her family and herself in the end. Believe it or not, you will find both when you finish this book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    abby

    By the time she turned 29, Hyeonseo Lee had spent a decade living on the run and in hiding. She had escaped a brothel, survived a kidnapping, run away from a loveless engagement, and changed her name four times. She was attacked on the street, robbed, conned, and arrested more than once. She is one of the lucky ones. Hyeonseo Lee was born in North Korea under a different name, to a family with good songbun (NK's caste system). But even being one of the lucky ones in North Korea means that Lee witn By the time she turned 29, Hyeonseo Lee had spent a decade living on the run and in hiding. She had escaped a brothel, survived a kidnapping, run away from a loveless engagement, and changed her name four times. She was attacked on the street, robbed, conned, and arrested more than once. She is one of the lucky ones. Hyeonseo Lee was born in North Korea under a different name, to a family with good songbun (NK's caste system). But even being one of the lucky ones in North Korea means that Lee witnessed her first public execution at seven years old. Like all citizens, starting in elementary school, she was forced to partake in weekly tattletale sessions, where one has to confess to a "crime" or accuse someone else of one. It could be as simple (and deadly serious) as "I don't think about the Dear Leader enough times during the day." While her family had food, in part because of her industrious and savvy mother, she witnessed others starving to death during the 1990s famine that killed hundreds of thousands. Even under these conditions, when Lee escapes, it's purely a matter of curiosity. Her family lives in a town directly across from China, along the narrowest part of the river that separates the two countries. She plans to turn around and come right back, but things don't work out that way. But it's not freedom that necessarily waits for her beyond the border. The Chinese government is dogged about tracking down illegal North Koreans and returning them to their fate back home. In many ways, Lee's life in China is as arduous as her life in North Korea. South Korea gives citizenship for all NK asylum seekers, but getting there isn't easy. Lee finally makes it and without suffering abuse in a Laotian prison like so many others-- women, particularly-- desperately trying to get to Seoul. Yup, Hyeonseo Lee is one of the "lucky ones." And I've never felt so damn privileged in my life. I really enjoyed this book. At times, Lee's storytelling is a little flat, and her decision to end each chapter with a cliff-hanger (that gets resolved on the very next page) is a little odd. This is a great book for anyone looking to learn about North Korea or just read an interesting memoir. 4.5 stars.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Dem

    What an interesting story and its so hard to believe that in this day and age that a whole nation of 25.5 Million people could be so cut off from the rest of the world and its leader could controll and dictate everything about peoples lives from birth to death. I had read a couple of books on North Korea over the years and came across The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story and another book which I felt were both worth reading. This book is easy to read and Hyeonseo Lee is certa What an interesting story and its so hard to believe that in this day and age that a whole nation of 25.5 Million people could be so cut off from the rest of the world and its leader could controll and dictate everything about peoples lives from birth to death. I had read a couple of books on North Korea over the years and came across The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story and another book which I felt were both worth reading. This book is easy to read and Hyeonseo Lee is certainly a lady with a lot of courage and if you enjoy reading about different culture and traditions then this is interesting and a great insight into one young woman's struggle to gain freedom. I watched a couple of you tube clips of this lady giving talks and she certainly is an inspiring and interesting woman and her book is an excellent insight into life under one of the world's most ruthless and secretive dictatorships. There were times in the story where I struggled with the authors choices and found myself wondering why she made some of the crazy choices she did and yet the more I though about it the more I realised she wasn't brought up as I was where making choices is something I take for granted, in her world life is dictated to you and you dont get to crave your own path in life so therefore choices and decisions must be very difficult to make when its never been part of your life. Each chapter ends in a sort of cliff hanger which I found a little bit pointless as the book didn't need to be written in this format as the story is so compelling in itself but its only a small thing and doesnt take a way from the book. The one thing this book really brought to light is just how confusing and challenging life in the free world can be for those who make the journey and the guilt and worry over family left behind. An easy and insightful read and I think this would make a wonderful bookclub read for those looking for something a little different.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Camie

    If you're like me and haven't read much about past and present living conditions in Northern Korea , you'll learn a lot here.This simply written book follows the courageous journey of a 17 year old girl who will need to change her name seven times after she defects from North Korea and reinvents her life both in China and later South Korea. Written to read like a novel, it will certainly give you a greater appreciation of the freedoms we often take for granted, while not weighing you down with m If you're like me and haven't read much about past and present living conditions in Northern Korea , you'll learn a lot here.This simply written book follows the courageous journey of a 17 year old girl who will need to change her name seven times after she defects from North Korea and reinvents her life both in China and later South Korea. Written to read like a novel, it will certainly give you a greater appreciation of the freedoms we often take for granted, while not weighing you down with more than the required detail about the atrocities others are facing daily. An easy read about a very important and interesting subject. Good March choice KUYH ! 4 stars

  6. 5 out of 5

    Julia Graf

    I did enjoy this but I also feel like she made a lot of really incredibly dumb choices that really made no sense. For example she stayed with relatives in China for 2 whole years (!!!) and didn't think of maybe using that time to get a job to save money, or to learn a vocation? Then she runs away penniless on the spur of the moment and has no plan of what to do. You had 2 years to think about it and relied on the kindness of distant relatives to support you, but you didn't think ahead of what to I did enjoy this but I also feel like she made a lot of really incredibly dumb choices that really made no sense. For example she stayed with relatives in China for 2 whole years (!!!) and didn't think of maybe using that time to get a job to save money, or to learn a vocation? Then she runs away penniless on the spur of the moment and has no plan of what to do. You had 2 years to think about it and relied on the kindness of distant relatives to support you, but you didn't think ahead of what to do next?? She seemed really naive in general, especially when she constantly turned to brokers for help, even though she clearly says again and again she didn't trust them. She was incredibly lucky and fortunate to have people around her who had a lot of money to constantly bail her out and those connections clearly helped her. Also the fact that she didn't even know at first that people were starving in the 90s in N. Korea and she was eating meat daily, makes it clear that she lived a very insulated life there, and probably had a very different experience from the average N. Korean. I'd really love to know her mother's story, because to be honest, she sounds like a much tougher cookie than her daughter, cleverly supporting her 2 children and getting them through famine as a single mother. Wow, hats off to her! I did enjoy this book because I'm fascinated with any books from N. Korean defectors in general, but my sympathies with her were limited. I'm glad she got out, and that she was able to help her family as well, but this is probably not the experience of most N. Korean defectors. I do wish her all the best and hope more people learn about what is going on in N. Korea.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Trish

    I listened to this remarkable story, read by Josie Dunn and published by HarperCollins Publishers UK, with a degree of disbelief. Certain parts of the story agree with what I’d learned already about the lives of North Koreans, the general trend of their escapes, and their orientation in South Korea as refugees. The author was young, seventeen, when she decided to cross the frozen Yalu in winter and go see her relatives in Shenyang, China. She’d had no idea where Shenyang was—that I actually coul I listened to this remarkable story, read by Josie Dunn and published by HarperCollins Publishers UK, with a degree of disbelief. Certain parts of the story agree with what I’d learned already about the lives of North Koreans, the general trend of their escapes, and their orientation in South Korea as refugees. The author was young, seventeen, when she decided to cross the frozen Yalu in winter and go see her relatives in Shenyang, China. She’d had no idea where Shenyang was—that I actually could believe. And as a privileged (for North Korea) teen, she was accustomed to getting her way or being ignored. Certainly maps were not easily found, just as they weren’t in China, either, thirty years ago. The period in this book covers approximately 2000-2012, a period when Hyeonseo Lee spent ten years in China working then flew to South Korea to request asylum. Her own path to freedom was relatively smooth; she’d learned to be wary of revealing much about herself from childhood and was not easily deceived. Being young and attractive gave her the benefit of the doubt in China, and she wasn’t able to escape every attempt to corral her into exploitative jobs. But she lived on her wits and managed, eventually, to eventually pass as Chinese-Korean. With this identity she was able to procure a passport (and a new name). She lived in China ten years. I don’t want to spoil the adventure for those who aren’t familiar with her story, but it is a doozy. Her family in North Korea had a good songbun (status or name) which they exploited to bring goods in from outside the country. An uncle actually sold heroin. Her mother brought in all manner of household goods and occasionally even methamphetamines! Hyeonseo’s brother began doing much the same illicit and illegal trade work, bribing border guards, etc. after Hyeonseo left. Apparently her departure was officially overlooked, perhaps as the result of a bribe. The story rings true, and she’s told it so many times by now that there are all kinds of suggestive chapter endings which propel one to turn to the next chapter. Apparently Ms. Lee met with President Trump with some other defectors in the White House in January 2018 before the president’s departure to Singapore to meet Kim Jong Un. She has given many talks around the world about her experience and that of her family, including a TED talk I have linked to on my blog. The audio of her book is not read by the author, which is good because Ms. Lee’s heavily-accented English from 2013 is a little difficult to understand. I'm sure she is better now. The memoir is clearly and ably written, and I can see no credit for a translator. This is a defector story you probably haven’t heard, and since she has spoken around the world on this topic, you might want to see what everyone is so excited about.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Short Reviews

    This was definitely the best autobiography I've read to date. Hyeonseo is a brave exceptional woman who has been through hell and back. The loyalty and love she has for her family was so lovely to read. I can't even form a proper review- no review will describe how much I loved reading this book!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Metcalf

    The Girl with Seven Names: Escape From North Korea by Hyeonseo Lee is what reading is all about for me. Learning something of the world, of the lives of others and gaining an appreciation for just how fortunate I am to have been born in this time and place with the freedoms and luxuries often taken for granted. Hyonseo Lee's memoir tells of the complete ideological indoctrination of the North Korean people. She detailed the way the brainwashing begins from the time of their birth and never lets The Girl with Seven Names: Escape From North Korea by Hyeonseo Lee is what reading is all about for me. Learning something of the world, of the lives of others and gaining an appreciation for just how fortunate I am to have been born in this time and place with the freedoms and luxuries often taken for granted. Hyonseo Lee's memoir tells of the complete ideological indoctrination of the North Korean people. She detailed the way the brainwashing begins from the time of their birth and never lets up, the violence and fear of repercussions for the people, and the importance of restricting outside information describing it this way: "...in truth there is no dividing line between cruel leaders and oppressed citizens. The Kims rule by making everyone complicit in a brutal system, implicating all, from the highest to the lowest, blurring morals so that no one is blameless........Ordinary people are made persecutors, denouncers, thieves. They use the fear flowing from the top to win some advantage, or to survive." At the age of 17 Hyeonseo escaped North Korea but her battle did not end there. It was not until she finally managed the defect to South Korea almost ten years later than she was able to experience anything remotely like freedom, and even then she was not willing to relax until she had also assisted her mother and brother to freedom. Theirs was a completely foreign world to mine and I cannot begin to imagine experiencing all they endured. Time and again Hyeonseo Lee and her family put their lives at risk, were at the mercy of con men, brokers, corrupt police and other officials expecting to be bribed whether to turn a blind eye or to ease their paths to freedom. I am often bewildered about why the people of places like North Korea remain loyal to tyrannical governments and Hyonseo explained it this way "North Koreans who have never left don't think critically because they have no point of comparison - with previous governments, different policies, or with other societies in the outside world." I can only admire this young lady who has not only written this book but who also testified at the first United Nations Commission of Enquiry on human rights in North Korea, and was invited to do a TED talk. A very informative and worthy read.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Apratim Mukherjee

    This is the first time I read a North Korean defector's story.I had read about the oppressive regime but the book is an eye opener of all sorts.Though written like a thriller novel,the book tells a lot of suffering that the North Koreans go through in their perilous journey during their defection.The treatment of these defectors in China is a matter of concern for the international community. The book deserves 4 stars ...1 deduction for too much propaganda material in the beginning and sensationa This is the first time I read a North Korean defector's story.I had read about the oppressive regime but the book is an eye opener of all sorts.Though written like a thriller novel,the book tells a lot of suffering that the North Koreans go through in their perilous journey during their defection.The treatment of these defectors in China is a matter of concern for the international community. The book deserves 4 stars ...1 deduction for too much propaganda material in the beginning and sensationalising the second and third part.But it was a goodread.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. 4.5 stars. One of the better books I've read on North Korean defection. Kudos to the co-author who brilliantly translated Lee's emotional journey into a page-turner. The third part was my favorite because it involved her family's long and arduous journey to join her in South Korea. I wasn't surprised that both her mother and brother longed to return to the North because adapting to life in Seoul presented a tremendous and negative cultural shock. While it is impossible for me to imagine what dai 4.5 stars. One of the better books I've read on North Korean defection. Kudos to the co-author who brilliantly translated Lee's emotional journey into a page-turner. The third part was my favorite because it involved her family's long and arduous journey to join her in South Korea. I wasn't surprised that both her mother and brother longed to return to the North because adapting to life in Seoul presented a tremendous and negative cultural shock. While it is impossible for me to imagine what daily life would be like in the North Korean regime, I can imagine that adapting to a polar opposite way of living in the day-to-day - full of unknowns and experiences so uncommon (such as using an ATM) - might make me wish to return to the the devil I knew. I gave this book 4.5 stars because I wanted to read more about the family's struggles adapting to life in Seoul. Lee gives us glimpses of their difficulties but I wish that aspect was meatier.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jeannette Nikolova

    Also available on the WondrousBooks blog. Country: North Korea This is the second book that I have read, which tells the stories of North Korean defectors, the first being Nothing to Envy. I debated with myself whether I need another book for my book world trip, but what set my mind was the idea, that while Nothing to Envy is a story told through a "middle man", The Girl with Seven Names is an autobiography. Ultimately, now I can say that the difference between the two books is mostly in the wa Also available on the WondrousBooks blog. Country: North Korea This is the second book that I have read, which tells the stories of North Korean defectors, the first being Nothing to Envy. I debated with myself whether I need another book for my book world trip, but what set my mind was the idea, that while Nothing to Envy is a story told through a "middle man", The Girl with Seven Names is an autobiography. Ultimately, now I can say that the difference between the two books is mostly in the way they view the subject. Hyeonseo Lee tells her own experiences, the life as she knew it, the world as she was taught to view it. However, Barbara Demick's book is more of a collection of stories, told through the prism of someone who knows the political situation well and could define the difference between what the defectors were experiencing, and what they knew about the world, versus what was actually happening. While this is mentioned in Lee's narrative, she talks about it more in retrospect, as when certain political and historical situations were unfolding, she was oblivious to the facts, having been indoctrinated in the North Korean values. For me, The Girl with Seven Names was a very valuable and interesting look into North Korea, and especially the way the people there view the world. But more so, as Hyeonseo Lee says so herself, she was not even from the lower classes of society, so she had it better than the rest. And "better" was not starving to death, not being sold as a bride in China, not being invited to serve and please the "leader". I think it's really hard for any of us, even those, like me, who have lived in a communist, or post-communist country, to imagine the level of poverty, corruption and censure that people experience in a country like North Korea. I've witnessed firsthand only one somewhat similar country, that I'd rather not name, and it saddened me deeply how much people need to put up with to gain even their basic human rights, how much bribery is needed to not be falsely accused of a crime you didn't commit, or how little you have, and yet learn to live with. That is not to say that I'm not seeing remains of this to this day in my own country. There was one particular sentence in The Girl with Seven Names, which reminded me of how Bulgarians can be, and which is something that I've heard even from foreigners who otherwise like or even love Bulgaria and the Bulgarian people: "North Koreans have a gift for negativity towards others, the effect of a lifetime of compulsory criticism sessions." While to my knowledge, people haven't had those criticism sessions here, I feel like pessimism and negativity are only two of many things that get born from regimes like the one in North Korea. So in many ways, the book was both very alien and unimaginable, but also very familiar, and close to home. The fact which saddened my while reading both The Girl with Seven Names, and Nothing to Envy, is how North Koreans are treated while trying to defect. I would understand the unnecessary repercussions if North Koreans were not wanted in South Korea. But knowing that South Korea welcomes them, for all the countries around to stop the defectors, imprison them, or return them to North Korea to be punished or even executed, seems the highest level of inhumane. While reading this book, I couldn't stop thinking how lucky Hyeonseo Lee was in comparison to other defectors. At the very least, she managed to get out, and save her family, and even become a spokesperson about the rights of North Koreans. But what about all of those who were detained, killed, or maybe even worse...? I think that books like this one are such which every person should read. Especially those who live happy little lives in a rich country in the West, and have no understanding of how the world works, or how bad some people have it. I'm sorry if it seems harsh, but the lack of empathy in some countries has reached levels which are so high that should be criminal. We're all people, so we shouldn't just accept that we deserve to have it better than others.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Alissa Patrick

    Being an American, I knew a little about the hardships in North Korea, as well as how crazy Kim Jong-Il was (& now Kim Jong-Un). But reading this memoir of a North Korean defector's account just floored me. It definitely opened my eyes

  14. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    North Korea memoirs are always difficult. The stories of escape aren't yet so common as to be mundane (though perhaps we should hope for the day they are) but they're difficult to put into great prose. Hyeonseo Lee tells of a remarkable upbringing in that reclusive country, although in her border town people seem to cross into China and back with surprising ease. Her escape story and life in China testifies to her grit and intelligence. And the story of how she adopted seven different names in he North Korea memoirs are always difficult. The stories of escape aren't yet so common as to be mundane (though perhaps we should hope for the day they are) but they're difficult to put into great prose. Hyeonseo Lee tells of a remarkable upbringing in that reclusive country, although in her border town people seem to cross into China and back with surprising ease. Her escape story and life in China testifies to her grit and intelligence. And the story of how she adopted seven different names in her life, and what they all meant, is heartbreaking for those of us with more stable lives. And she's certainly written a compulsive page turner. But we're just waiting for that great North Korean memoir. The one that really cracks into the mass public consciousness. The classic we'll all point to when that hideous regime exists only in history.

  15. 5 out of 5

    David Webber

    Excellent and much different than Escape from Camp 14 and other books which involved life in the prison camps. The author lived what many would have considered a fairly normal life in a North Korea border town with China. This story gives a picture of average life in North Korea, life for defectors in China, and life struggling with their new identity. Her family adds much drama to the story as well. A very good read to get a different perspective and to learn from Hyeonseo's incredible story.

  16. 5 out of 5

    L.A. Starks

    An exceptionally illuminating book into life inside North Korea, and the risks in escaping it, from a brave and talented young woman

  17. 5 out of 5

    Negin

    This is the third book that I’ve read about North Korea. My favorite is still Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick, and one that I highly recommend. “The Girl with Seven Names” is a close second. I could barely put this book down. It’s beautifully written, so moving, the type of book that you can’t stop thinking about. Notice the framed pictures of the leaders inside this North Korean home. When couples get married, they’re given framed pictures with a specific cloth that must be used only for thos This is the third book that I’ve read about North Korea. My favorite is still Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick, and one that I highly recommend. “The Girl with Seven Names” is a close second. I could barely put this book down. It’s beautifully written, so moving, the type of book that you can’t stop thinking about. Notice the framed pictures of the leaders inside this North Korean home. When couples get married, they’re given framed pictures with a specific cloth that must be used only for those pictures. The pictures have to be placed at the highest spot in the home and cleaned regularly. Failure to do so and failure to take care of them properly, can lead to one’s being sent off to a labor camp. Some quotes that I thought are worth sharing: “Kindness toward strangers is rare in North Korea. There is risk in helping others. The irony was that by forcing us to be good citizens, the state made accusers and informers of us all.” “It is mandatory from elementary school to attend public executions. Often classes would be cancelled so students could go.” “Sadly, as the historian Andrei Lankov put it, a regime that’s willing to kill as many people as it takes to stay in power tends to stay in power for a very long time.” “Kind people who put others before themselves would be the first to die. It was the ruthless and the selfish who would survive.” “Dictatorships may seem strong and unified, but they are always weaker than they appear.”

  18. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    What a fascinating look inside a place so shrouded in secrecy. I've watched a couple of documentaries about North Korea on Netflix, and was shocked by the extent of indoctrination and how isolated the North Korean people are from knowledge of the world beyond their borders. This is the story of a young girl who had it pretty good in North Korea, comparatively speaking [the ludicrousness of that statement is illustrated by the fate of her father], but was starting to have some doubts and question What a fascinating look inside a place so shrouded in secrecy. I've watched a couple of documentaries about North Korea on Netflix, and was shocked by the extent of indoctrination and how isolated the North Korean people are from knowledge of the world beyond their borders. This is the story of a young girl who had it pretty good in North Korea, comparatively speaking [the ludicrousness of that statement is illustrated by the fate of her father], but was starting to have some doubts and questions about the awesomeness of her homeland, and the supposed benevolence of its rulers. In an act of teenage rebellion and impetuousness, she decided to sneak across the border to China for a quick look around. Little did she know that she'd be leaving her family behind for many years, that she'd be placing them in grave danger, and that she, as a 17 year old girl with no money, would have to figure out how to deal with the consequences of her impulsive act and make it on her own from there on out. The beginning of the book describes life inside North Korea, and it's almost impossible for someone born in a free country to imagine a life like this. The thing is, if you were born of a higher social caste, like the author's family, life wasn't all that bad so long as you played the game, watched your every word, and didn't mind living under the constant threat of arrest and public execution. This book reads like fiction. It's filled with twists and turns and kept me on the figurative edge of my seat. Things were not totally peachy just by virtue of escape across the border. Illegals in China get shipped back to North Korea all the time, and the threat of detection is ever-present. Nor is it simple for a young North Korean with no papers to make a living. Hence the decision to make it across the border to South Korea and to formally defect. The route to do that, and the challenges and risks involved, were many. I alternated between thinking the author was incredibly brave, crazy, lucky, or some combination of all. She's determined to see her family again, and she makes that happen. The story of how is gripping. We might like to think that a person trapped within the borders of North Korea would be ecstatic to escape to a land of greater opportunity, but the challenges, and adjustments, are huge. I was thrilled to see the pictures of Hyeonseo Lee and her family at the end, because they look happy. She's got a book that made the Goodreads list of top non-fiction books for 2015, so I just have to say, "You go girl!"

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    Hyeonseo Lee grew up carefully cleaning picture frames for weekly inspections by government officials in white linen gloves. In her classroom and at her mother’s job, weekly meetings were conducted in which everyone in attendance had to confess their guilt about something and accuse others of the same. The leaders of her country were made heroes in fairy tales told by her kindergarten teachers. Those who did not cry enough when Kim Il-Sung died mysteriously disappeared. Even living on the border Hyeonseo Lee grew up carefully cleaning picture frames for weekly inspections by government officials in white linen gloves. In her classroom and at her mother’s job, weekly meetings were conducted in which everyone in attendance had to confess their guilt about something and accuse others of the same. The leaders of her country were made heroes in fairy tales told by her kindergarten teachers. Those who did not cry enough when Kim Il-Sung died mysteriously disappeared. Even living on the borderland between North Korea and China, where some Chinese channels could be picked up and hundreds of goods were smuggled into the country every day, the oppressive hand of the regime was constantly felt. When Lee is finally able to make a trip to the other side of the border at the age of 17, she tastes freedom, however skewed, for the first time, and she realizes she can never return home. This book was incredible. Lee’s journey was both harrowing and inspirational. To get a glimpse into one of the most secretive and oppressive countries in the world was incredibly valuable, and the experiences Lee recounts after her escape are incredible. The Girl with Seven Names, titled for the different names Lee had to adopt to avoid deportation while making a new life for herself, tells a fantastic story with a unique perspective. When she made her escape at 17, Lee was just hoping to spend a couple days in China before coming back home, afraid that if she waited until she was 18, the punishment if she were caught would be a lot harsher. However, after she arrived on the other side, she was told that it was not safe for her to return to her country ever again. Suddenly, all Lee had in the world were the clothes on her back, and she had to learn how to survive in a country that would instantly deport her if they knew where she was from. Coming from that kind of a mindset, being a rebellious teenager who didn’t have any motivation at the time to become a political refugee or human rights activist, created such an interesting perspective in this reading. Combined with the themes of survivalism and family duty, this book turned out to be quite a page turner. The Girl with Seven Names is one of the best books I’ve read all year, and I wholeheartedly recommend it for people looking for a fresh new memoir to read, those who are interested in international affairs, or those to whom Korea holds a more personal interest.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Denise

    The Girl with Seven Names is a powerful, fascinating true story about a young girl who manages to escape from North Korea. She gives a very honest view of living in North Korea and her escape and later helping her mother and brother escape. I found myself feeling all the pain, the struggles and the fear that Hyeonsea felt. It also reveals the difficulties, for young and old to assimilate into a new culture. This is an intriguing account of an amazing young women.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    It was the story about woman who leave her country to satisfy her curiosity of the world. She can't go back because her country has a strict regulation that the people who leave will get a punishment when they go back. So she must take her own path in a new world live as an illegal settler and hide her identity as a North Korea citizen. She had go through a lot hardship in her way to get the freedom and had to change her names for a several times. She never know that it tooks a long way to final It was the story about woman who leave her country to satisfy her curiosity of the world. She can't go back because her country has a strict regulation that the people who leave will get a punishment when they go back. So she must take her own path in a new world live as an illegal settler and hide her identity as a North Korea citizen. She had go through a lot hardship in her way to get the freedom and had to change her names for a several times. She never know that it tooks a long way to finally meet with her family again. Hyeonseo Lee tells a lot about North Korea in this book. The country with the dictator regime by the Leader of Kim's family. The people live in suffer and fears of speak their mind. Most people also live in starvation. I had browse some web source of the North Korea before and get another point of view by read this book. I found Hyeonseo is a smart and brave woman who always can solve her problem in any hard situations. She become fluent in Mandarin in 2 years and always can get money with a fair job which some people will take a shortcut with do the prostitute. I love this book because its so inspiring and I learned a lot of things from it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin Gutilla

    This is the most informative, interesting, and mind boggling memoir I've ever read. North Korea is a mysterious country that blocks out all foreign powers to strengthen its own dictatorship. This story gives insight into North Koreans' every day lives and the grueling process of escaping the hunger, the brutality, and the control. I'm actually appalled at how the surrounding Asian countries treated the defectors seeking asylum from a known dictatorship. I don't know if it's still like that today This is the most informative, interesting, and mind boggling memoir I've ever read. North Korea is a mysterious country that blocks out all foreign powers to strengthen its own dictatorship. This story gives insight into North Koreans' every day lives and the grueling process of escaping the hunger, the brutality, and the control. I'm actually appalled at how the surrounding Asian countries treated the defectors seeking asylum from a known dictatorship. I don't know if it's still like that today, but dear god! Pretty much everyone in the modern day world knows North Korea is ruled by a tyrant who doesn't feed or take care of his people, so when they finally manage to escape, we're just going to ship them back? That's completely inhumane. I'm happy that Hyeonseo managed to escape North Korea. But it kills me knowing there is still a whole country full of people suffering from the Kims.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Aida

    In my years of working in a large, inner city school system, I've encountered several families that have migrated to the US from different parts of the world. While many of the stories heard were centered on experiences of migrating from Central, South and Latin America, I still had a certain knowledge base of the political structure in those countries. The central theme was due to poverty and wanting of a better life. Ms. Lee's story of a North Korean girl and her family and their defection, te In my years of working in a large, inner city school system, I've encountered several families that have migrated to the US from different parts of the world. While many of the stories heard were centered on experiences of migrating from Central, South and Latin America, I still had a certain knowledge base of the political structure in those countries. The central theme was due to poverty and wanting of a better life. Ms. Lee's story of a North Korean girl and her family and their defection, tells a tale of their hardships while escaping a controlling regime. It gives the reader background knowledge and understanding of the Korean people and their indoctrination from early onset, as well as the emotional turmoil in making the decision to defect. Reading this book just reinforced my gratitude for the inherited freedoms practiced and taken for granted in our society.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    This book reads like fiction - it grabs you immediately and doesn't let go. If you want to remember how wonderful it is to live in our free America, just read this. You will say thank you every page that you are here and not there! This young girl is so very, very brave - I found myself cheering her on as though she were my own flesh and blood. This is the second book I have read about escaping from this abysmal country (North Korea) -- everyone should read at least one! It is hard to believe a This book reads like fiction - it grabs you immediately and doesn't let go. If you want to remember how wonderful it is to live in our free America, just read this. You will say thank you every page that you are here and not there! This young girl is so very, very brave - I found myself cheering her on as though she were my own flesh and blood. This is the second book I have read about escaping from this abysmal country (North Korea) -- everyone should read at least one! It is hard to believe a country like this still exists. A must read book.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship

    It’s been awhile since I have been this riveted by a book. And this isn’t even a novel, but a memoir! But then, a jaded reader like me can often sense where the plot of a novel will go, but in real life, anything can happen. Hyeonseo Lee was born in North Korea, and the first third of this book traces her parents’ love story and her childhood in the world’s most isolated country. It is not the misery memoir you might expect on reading “North Korea”: the author’s family, while without political po It’s been awhile since I have been this riveted by a book. And this isn’t even a novel, but a memoir! But then, a jaded reader like me can often sense where the plot of a novel will go, but in real life, anything can happen. Hyeonseo Lee was born in North Korea, and the first third of this book traces her parents’ love story and her childhood in the world’s most isolated country. It is not the misery memoir you might expect on reading “North Korea”: the author’s family, while without political power, has a relatively high social status due to her grandparents’ communist credentials, and her mother’s black-market trading means they never go hungry. Much of Lee’s childhood plays out in Hyesan, just across a shallow river from China, and at age 17 – for reasons best summarized as “she was 17” – she decides to cross the river, just for a few days, to see life on the other side. This is the beginning of an epic journey for Lee and her mother and brother, through China, Laos and finally South Korea. I think of this book as an adventure story, even though the second 2/3 of the book span more than a decade, because it turns out there are few safe places for North Korean defectors. Lee spends years in China, where she could be deported home at any moment if her true identity is discovered (hence her use of several names). She ultimately learns that, compared to most defectors, her journey is relatively easy, but it seems harrowing to me – and the more so when, years later, she returns to bring her family out. This is a fast-paced book (especially after the first third), full of dialogue and immersion in its settings. But it also feels like a very honest book. I would expect a North Korean defector with an English-language publisher to feel pressure to sensationalize her story of life in North Korea and portray escape from that country as unmitigated triumph. But the author’s and her family’s experiences are much more complex. While there’s plenty to dislike about North Korea, it’s a world whose rules they understand. On leaving, they lose home and family, and their nerve-wracking journey leads them to a foreign country where they are considered second-class citizens, struggling to make ends meet with menial jobs, since a North Korean education is worthless in South Korea. By the end of the book, the reader can understand why they all, at different times, want to go back. Lee also writes honestly about her feelings of guilt: she makes some ill-considered decisions, and at times hurts other people; but with her limited choices and little support, it’s hard to blame her. It isn’t all hardship, though. The family’s bonds are strong, and they forge ahead and find help in some unexpected places. This isn’t a literary memoir and while the characters are well-defined, I don’t find them especially memorable. Nevertheless, I had a wonderful time reading this book, blowing through most of it in one day, during which I was more or less glued to its pages. It is exciting, eye-opening, immersive and a great read.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Yblees

    Totally compulsive book. This reads like an adventure thriller, and has got to be the MOST enjoyable "out of North Korea" I've ever read. The big difference to other "escapee" stories is that the author had a relatively comfortable, protected life, with a loving and supportive family. She left North Korea unbrutalised by famine, torture or deep personal tragedy. In fact, (view spoiler)[she didn't so much escape, as wander out thinking to have a "vacation" before she had to go back and become a s Totally compulsive book. This reads like an adventure thriller, and has got to be the MOST enjoyable "out of North Korea" I've ever read. The big difference to other "escapee" stories is that the author had a relatively comfortable, protected life, with a loving and supportive family. She left North Korea unbrutalised by famine, torture or deep personal tragedy. In fact, (view spoiler)[she didn't so much escape, as wander out thinking to have a "vacation" before she had to go back and become a serious adult. A border guard friend waves her across, and business contacts of her family help her visit with relatives. Everything goes so well that she ends up staying on "vacation" for a month, not realising she's been found out by the authorities, and can no longer go home. Basically, she left for an OE (overseas experience), and the hardship she experiences only comes after she's left North Korea. (hide spoiler)] I think most readers who've grown up in countries where we can travel freely, and where young people take time off for OE's and gap years can identify well with Ms Lee. Deep down, she's like us. We can understand her motivations. We cheer when she triumphs over adversity through sheer guts and tenacity. She's definitely inspiring! Unfortunately, with the other kind of defector story, the sheer brutality and torture described is often so unpleasant, that the reader will start to disassociate emotionally. And the survivors who escape are such damaged personalities, that they seem sociopathic and aren't particularly likeable (eg. Escape from Camp 14) I think this book is important because it raises awareness of the plight of North Koreans in an inspiring way. The reader can identify with Ms Lee. Whereas, after reading "Camp 14", my dominant feeling, was horrified aversion, a much more "leave them to rot" emotion.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Cassandra

    The story of Hyeonseo and her family's escape from North Korea is fascinating and moving. The style itself is very matter-of-fact, and the writing isn't emotional. It doesn't have to be. The stories she tells are powerful enough on its own. Just when you think that Hyeonseo catches a break, something else terrible happens. But what really sets this book apart for me is the nuance - the fact that life is as difficult for a North Korean defector in China or South Korea as it is to remain in North The story of Hyeonseo and her family's escape from North Korea is fascinating and moving. The style itself is very matter-of-fact, and the writing isn't emotional. It doesn't have to be. The stories she tells are powerful enough on its own. Just when you think that Hyeonseo catches a break, something else terrible happens. But what really sets this book apart for me is the nuance - the fact that life is as difficult for a North Korean defector in China or South Korea as it is to remain in North Korea. For Hyeonseo, this is because she had a remarkably "normal" and happy childhood. The totalitarian regime infects every part of life, causing neighbors to inform on each other and kindergarteners to have to go through self-criticism sessions, and there is no concept of human rights. Even with all of that, though, what struck me is that Hyeonseo's family was actually reasonably well-off and happy. Not every North Korean experiences this privilege, of course, but it casts the struggles in China and South Korea in a very different light. Life was not automatically better for them when they defected. There are significant emotional scars from growing up in a place where every action could be considered suspect, and these are things that they will always struggle with.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Helen Yee

    Wow. Such an incredible book that I literally could not put down. I churned through this in practically one sitting, unable to stop at the end of each chapter. It's written so well - compelling without sensationalism or verbosity. The insight in the North Korean indoctrination of party loyalty above everything was fascinating. As Lee points out, it's impossible for North Koreans to grasp their lack of rights and freedom when they've never understood that these concepts exist. Her bravery, intell Wow. Such an incredible book that I literally could not put down. I churned through this in practically one sitting, unable to stop at the end of each chapter. It's written so well - compelling without sensationalism or verbosity. The insight in the North Korean indoctrination of party loyalty above everything was fascinating. As Lee points out, it's impossible for North Koreans to grasp their lack of rights and freedom when they've never understood that these concepts exist. Her bravery, intelligence and street smarts to escape and survive make our daily struggles pale in comparison.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Priya

    Eye opener on the state of affairs in North Korea! It's amazing how the country is being ruled by the Kim family, with absolute control, even in this day and age. Gives a whole new perspective on human rights and freedom of speech...even just freedom!

  30. 5 out of 5

    enqi ☁️✨ [joon's]

    This autobiography by Hyeonseo Lee was wild and moving and heartbreaking and my entire worldview has been altered in the course of a few hours. RTC.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

In order to read or download eBook, you need to create FREE account.
eBook available in PDF, ePub, MOBI and Kindle versions



Loading...