The most important thing to remember about this book is it isn't a political piece. This book is made of stories, and not those of great men, but everyday people. And as such they are average stories, at times happy, sad or shocking, but they are real, and true.
This is a fascinating book that nicely weaves together the history of Korea and the creation of North Korea, with the stories of 6 defectors from North Korea who were interviewed in their new home of South Korea. Not just the stories of their defections, but of their lives in North Korea for decades before that......what their lives were like in the North Korea of Kim Il-sung and, later, Kim Jong-il. The book was published in 2009, a few years before the current leader, Kim Jong-un took control, though he is mentioned as Kim Jong-il's son. What really makes the book interesting is that it's a look at the lives of these average people (factory workers, students, teachers, farmers, etc) inside what is the most secretive and unknown country on earth. Their families, their homes, their jobs, the totality of how their entire existence was created, maintained, and shaped by the whims of the current leader. The continued existence of the repressive regimes well into the 22nd century remains a fascinating mystery.
A look into the lives of North Koreans through the eyes of half a dozen defectors with shared experiences. Feel more like objective reporting that story-telling. Leaves you wanting to know more about both the defectors and the country from which they came, and thus makes for an excellent read.
Loved the story, had trouble occasionally keeping track of the characters. At times it appeared that the author either did not understand the cultural significance or did not like the tradition, for instance the description of the soup celebrating the birth of a child. Also, I did not care for the narrator. At times I found the recording difficult to listen to due to the narrator's style..
This book follows the lives of several NK defectors to China and South Korea. Their stories cover their lives back in NK, what drove them to defect, how they defected, who helped them, and their struggles adjusting to the free world. Fascinating perspectives into how NK mistreats their population.
The narration is OK. She needs to show a little more emotion, especially considering the topic.
I think I would rather read the book, having listened to the narration.
I really don't have an answer for this. I did not care for the narration.
The narrator had very strange voice modulations and emphasized words strangely. There was perhaps too much emphasis put on the pronunciations of the Korean words. It was like listening to Siri read, with that choppy, slightly monotone manner than computerized speech has.
I was fascinated by the descriptions of the faith that people had in the North Korean regime to take care of their needs and their unquestioning loyalty to Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. Terrifying.
If vocal quality and narration style is something you really care about, you might want to just read the print version.
Please do not stop listening to this book if you are put off by the narrator's unusual style or when listening to the "sample". What is in the book overshadows that aspect and in fact as I look back, it "fits" and compliments the realism of the story of a different culture and would have not been as powerful if it had been narrated in a more theatrical dialogue that we are used to hearing. I was amazed that during this time, we in the US had so little understanding of the magnitude of the problems in North Korea. This book gives a valuable insight into the culture of North Korea and helps understand the issues in the present day North Korea.
As I said above, the narrative style of Karen when reading the book at first seemed a bit flat and lacking but did suit the characters, time and story. As I said, I had a hard time with it at first but this faded away and seems to fit the story.
No - I have not
There were so many. The revelations about what the world was like for North Koreans seemed as if I was transported to 200+ years earlier. Hard to fathom that this was happening at the same time where we in the US were using smartphones, WiFi and high speed internet.
Highly recommend this book.
I held off on reading this for a while as I thought it would be "personal stories" which would not be interesting. I was very wrong - this ordinary Koreans are anything but ordinary! If you want to learn more about N. Korea this is the book for you. Outstanding.