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The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector's Story Audiobook

The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector's Story

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Publisher's Summary

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 communist 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 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 17, she decided to escape North Korea. She could not have imagined that it would be 12 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. And 12 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 and 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.

©2015 Hyeonseo Lee (P)2015 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

What the Critics Say

"The most riveting TED talk ever." (Oprah)

"This is a powerful story of an escapee from North Korea. In the hallowed meeting rooms of the United Nations in New York, ambassadors from North Korea recently sought to shout down stories like this. But these voices will not be silenced. Eventually freedom will be restored. History will vindicate Hyeonseo Lee and those like her for the risks they ran so that their bodies and their minds could be free. And so that we could know the truth." (Michael Kirby, chair of the UN commission on human rights abuses in North Korea)

"When I first met Hyeonseo Lee, the unflinching manner in which she told her story was inspirational. She experienced hunger, coldness, fear, terror, threats and pursuit. All this she had to endure, simply for being a North Korean refugee. But the one thing that she held on to was her humanity, ever stronger as she continuously sublimated her hardships into hope. This is a sad and beautiful story of a girl who could not even keep her name, yet overcome all with the identity of what it is to be human." (Jang Jin-sung, author of Dear Leader: Poet, Spy, Escapee - A Look Inside North Korea)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.8 (330 )
5 star
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4.8 (313 )
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4.7 (312 )
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3 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Amazon Customer 01-20-17 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
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    23
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    "Great Book"

    this was an amazing story! the only think that threw me was the European accent of the narrator; it initially annoyed me considering this is the story of a Korean woman, however she is very clear and not dull. great book!!!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    SF Boston, Massachusetts 12-18-16
    SF Boston, Massachusetts 12-18-16 Member Since 2015

    S

    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
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    82
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    "Great!"
    Where does The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector's Story rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    SPOILERS: Since living in South Korea (ROK), I've grown an affinity for books on North Korea (DPRK). This is a decent book on the subject. It doesn't give a lot of detail on life in North Korea during the "difficult times" but the author describes scenes and memories no child should.<br/><br/>Even Lee's escape from North Korea isn't a big deal. She simply tells a border guard she's going across. It was completely unplanned. Her escape from China to Shanghai was also uneventful. Lee just takes a flight. There are others who have much more grueling escapes. However, there is no doubt that it is an absolute challenge to do what she did and there is nothing to take away from that!<br/>


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector's Story?

    SPOILER: The author describing the man that hit his head after riding under the train and cracking his skull; just unimaginable but so nonchalant for the people at the time.


    What three words best describe Josie Dunn’s performance?

    Distracting, not researched


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    How far would you go for family?


    Any additional comments?

    The British accent on Dunn's performance is somewhat distracting as an American listener. It is very strong and nothing that I would expect a North Korean to sound like. It slightly takes away from the story.<br/><br/>The other issue is that the producers must of have done little research into how to pronounce the names in the book. Having lived in Seoul, Shanghai and traveled through Laos, dated a Laotian; it is mind-numbing to listen to half of these simple pronunciations. <br/><br/>I am no stickler for languages, but the names are so simple. The reader even gets the author's name wrong; pronouncing it Yeonseo with a "y" instead of Hyeonseao with an "hy". I mean: that's the author's name, how do you not research how to say that?!<br/><br/>Other names that I can remember that were pronounced incorrectly: Pyongyang, Harbin (city in China), Laos( The country had no "s" sound, although the author pronounced the language as "Lao" instead of Laotian, the normal nomenclature, but mispronounced the country.) Vientiane (The capital of Laos). She did however pronounce Shanghai correctly, perhaps because of her British accent of a short "ah" sound to shang. <br/><br/>All of that really took me out of the story from time to time. The author also mocks male characters, usually "bad" ones that are Korean or Chinese military guards or police. These accents are borderline cockney and just bizarre. She also mocks an American boyfriend of Lee's and that is just awful.<br/><br/>So, in short, at least as an American, the strong British accent just really seems wrong and does take away from the story from time to time.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Grace 09-26-15
    Grace 09-26-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Five stars"
    Would you listen to The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector's Story again? Why?

    I hardly ever give a book 5 stars and this is my first review but this book is unbelievable, I could barely put it down. This book is a page turner and even though you know the outcome, your heart pounds as you read her journey and that of her family. It is sad at times but overall, an empowering story of strength.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bill 04-15-17
    Bill 04-15-17 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    7
    4
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    "Outstanding"

    Well written. Grabbed my attention from beginning to end. It really opened my eyes to the reality of a dystopian world some people are trapped in.
    As a westerner I cannot truly appreciate all I am blessed with and allowed because I expect noting less. This book brought home how some in the world expect nothing more than a daily battle of wits for survival.
    I would highly recommend this book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daniela Cortes 10-09-15 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "One of the greatest books I've ever read"

    The story of people from North Korea is outstanding. It is hard to believe that at this present time there are still countries run by dictators.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Arkdogs 08-19-17
    Arkdogs 08-19-17 Member Since 2015
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    18
    3
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    Story
    "Wow"

    This was an incredible and gripping tale. Everyone should read or listen to this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    deb ford 08-17-17
    deb ford 08-17-17 Member Since 2017
    ratings
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    1
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    Story
    "A Great Story of Courage & A Reminder to Us All!"

    This story is more relevant now and a good must read for anyone who wants to know how North Koreans struggle to survive a world where each human being is only purpose is to serve dictatorship. We Americans should all learn many lessons from this story and be grateful for every moment we live in a country that is free. And, we should never allow fascism to rise.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barrett Francescatti 08-06-17 Member Since 2013
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    43
    4
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    Story
    "Interesting, informative, and touching"

    It is always interesting and informative to hear the ground truth perspective from an ordinary individual who comes from inside a given International situation that the world must find a way to resolve. This book, in its own unique special way, accomplishes this objective for the listener.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ann Victoria Hopcroft, Esq. Oscoda, Michigan 08-02-17
    Ann Victoria Hopcroft, Esq. Oscoda, Michigan 08-02-17 Member Since 2014

    Attorney & Artist

    HELPFUL VOTES
    18
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    "Life in North Korea -- an unintentional defector"

    A revealing account of life in North Korea where perceived disloyalty could provoke public execution.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Horse Rancher 07-24-17 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    20
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    "Enlightening & Entertaining"

    A well written, fascinating story of an incredibly brave, intelligent and resourceful young woman. This is a story about a world I knew nothing. it was truly stunning

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • reader101
    8/14/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great story, gripping & educational"

    Loved the book. Incredible story. What a woman! So much courage and determination. Wasn't keen on narrators cockney second voices thought that was irritating.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • FLowry
    Glasgow
    8/11/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "I loved this book"

    I thought this book had the perfect mix
    of suspense, joy, sadness and factual information. I listened to it very quickly and enjoyed every minute.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Karen Brown
    5/20/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "An amazing story of bravery and courage."

    My first time with audio and I wasn't disappointed. Josie Dunn does a great job. Thank you for sharing your story with us, Hyeonseo. A must for reading or audio.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Pootle_around
    5/12/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Hideous pronunciation of Mandarin!"

    Such a shame they used an English narrator who couldn't pronounce 'alias' and had a horrible intonation when pronouncing 'Mandarin'. Every time she said it, it made me want to scream. Interesting autobiography but poor narrator was distracting.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Jorge Hart
    5/11/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Best experience I've ever had without a doubt"

    If a book was a journey this was an outside of body experience. My life is so much richer for it wow wow and wow

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Heather B
    UK
    1/19/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Absolutely fascinating book/audiobook"

    I've often wondered what it must be like for the people of North Korea, after seeing coverage on TV of mass performances, marches, hysteria and weeping - alongside stories of what seemed to be a complete and utter lack of human rights for anyone other than those at the very top. I have to admit that I also wondered whether North Koreans' apparent love for their Leader was genuine (and if so why) - or if they were simply too afraid to show their real feelings. Hyeonseo Lee's book answered all those questions, and many more that hadn't even occurred to me before. I just couldn't stop listening, and was alternately amazed, shocked, uplifted, fascinated, horrified and full of awe throughout her story - which documents her childhood in North Korea, her pretty much accidental defection to China, and her incredible struggle to survive thereafter. It's an incredible story of oppression, fight for survival, widespread corruption and bribery, occasional kindness of strangers, and long struggle to help her mother and brother escape from North Korea too. Hyeonseo Lee is one courageous, tenacious and intelligent lady, and I am full of admiration for her and her story - beautifully narrated by Josie Dunn. I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • ZoeK
    South Wales, UK
    12/14/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Amazing story"
    Any additional comments?

    This is an amazing story. You can't believe what this woman had to go through. Fantastic listen!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    12/5/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fantastic book"

    I've always been interested in North Korea, but this is my first book. Someone had recommended one to me about a male defector, but I wanted to hear a woman's story. I was a bit unsure of the narrator at the start but soon got used to it and grew to really like her voice.

    It was a really gripping book and I thought the fact that she is not necessarily the most likeable person made everything feel more real.

    I binged listened over a few days and have also
    played parts to my family as some of her experiences in North Korea were so astonishing, I wanted to share them.

    Definitely worth a listen if you love drama but prefer non-fiction.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Emily
    11/22/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Eye Opening. Fantastically well written!"

    Incredible book. So interesting and it really made me think differently. An absolute must read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Daniel
    London, United Kingdom
    9/30/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "If it wasn't true it wouldn't be believable."

    This book is heart warming, stressful and exciting.

    It provides facinating incite into North Korea, and there people's plight. But also the strength of human character.

    Brilliant

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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