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Publisher's Summary

In this rare insider's view into contemporary North Korea, a high-ranking counterintelligence agent describes his life as a former poet laureate to Kim Jong-il and his breathtaking escape to freedom.

"The General will now enter the room."

Everyone turns to stone. Not moving my head, I direct my eyes to a point halfway up the archway where Kim Jong-il’s face will soon appear.

As North Korea's State Poet Laureate, Jang Jin-sung led a charmed life. With food provisions (even as the country suffered through its great famine), a travel pass, access to strictly censored information, and audiences with Kim Jong-il himself, his life in Pyongyang seemed safe and secure. But this privileged existence was about to be shattered. When a strictly forbidden magazine he lent to a friend goes missing, Jang Jin-sung must flee for his life.

Never before has a member of the elite described the inner workings of this totalitarian state and its propaganda machine. An astonishing exposé told through the heart-stopping story of Jang Jin-sung's escape to South Korea, Dear Leader is a rare and unprecedented insight into the world’s most secretive and repressive regime.

©2014 Jang Jin-Sung. All rights reserved. (P)2014 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Outstanding! A life-changing listen.

I agree with other reviews stating that once you start listening, it's hard to pause for any reason. This is a heart-stopping story, probably the greatest eye-opener I have ever read. The North Korean regime is abominable--how truly horrible, I had no idea until I listened to Dear Leader. The author, Jang Jin-sung, gave up a privileged existence to seek truth and freedom outside the confines of his brutally repressed country. Even though it is obvious from the start that he must have survived his escape attempt in order to tell his story, I was on the edge of my seat until I finished the book and confirmed that Mr. Jang had indeed survived. I can't say much more without providing spoilers. Either read or listen to this book. You won't be the same person after you finish it. The narration is excellent and moving, as is the writing. I would give Dear Leader ten stars if I could.

19 of 19 people found this review helpful

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richly detailed account of getting out

A captivating and richly detailed recap of the authors escape from North Korea. Very interesting to hear exactly how it was done.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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Unbelieveable!

Where does Dear Leader rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

The combination of an exciting personal narrative with shocking expose about what goes on in North Korea as recently as 10 years ago blew me away. I loved this book.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Excellent View into North Korea

Where does Dear Leader rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This is an excellent book. I was throughly entertained. I have always wondered how life is inside North Korea.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Dear Leader?

I loved the escape across the River that separates China from North Korea.

What about Daniel York’s performance did you like?

Good performance.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I listened to this book on my way back and forth to work.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

You cant get away from Orwell's "1984".

If you could sum up Dear Leader in three words, what would they be?

Thats easy!! A plagiarist of George Orwell, a pedophile, and a narcissistic sociopath. I am not overstating when I say this book could change your life. Your own problems will simply disappear into an embarrassing haze of utter meaningless. Forget North Korea's violations concerning nuclear proliferation, this government has inflicted genocide using starvation against its people, and should lose their sovereignty. The suffering of the Korean people most notably the execution of the soul is a repeat of man's worst history. Never has a such a high ranking official from North Korea defected and lived to tell about the horror left behind. There is actually a "Room 101" used for practically the same atrocities as in Orwell's 1984. Speechless and heartbroken, there is nothing else to say. A must read!!!

21 of 23 people found this review helpful

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  • 9S
  • 03-13-15

Mesmerizing.

This story coming from a top propagandist of the North Korean government is simply amazing. The author was was a true believer in the regime. But after meeting Dear Leader and seeing the outrageous luxury he wallowed in Jang started having doubts. As time passed Jang saw the deprivation, starvation, imprisonment and murder of hungry citizens he could no longer continue to participate in the lies he was required to write. He and a friend decided to escape North Korea and tell the world the truth of the truly evil nature of Dear Leader and his government.

The book reads just like a good thriller, but it is true which makes it heartbreaking. The amazing attempt at escape will keep you glued to this wonderful book. It will also leave you grateful for the privilege of living in the United States, or any other free nation.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Prepare to see the layers of truth revealed

What did you love best about Dear Leader?

The slow unfolding of the authors change of heart and willingness to ask himself the difficult questions. After all, he was priviledged, well fed and taken care of physically. To willingly work himself out of the labrinthe of lies and deceit was amazing to me.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I didn't have a favorite character. Jang and all those he worked with and those who helped him were fascinating to me. Looking forward to hearing more from the author.

What about Daniel York’s performance did you like?

I have not listened to any other performances by Daniel York before this. I can say only that he was remarkable in making the entire story come to life and believable.

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

A Manual on how to lie to the world and get away with it!

Any additional comments?

It's hard after listening to this book to not go off on a political rant, but I think I'll do that elsewhere.
Well worth the listen. I agree with the reviewer who mentioned after hearing these truths it is very difficult to pay attention to our petty little problems.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

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Everyone living in a free world should read this!

This is a heart-touching story that will make you feel and think deeply. You will get a great insight into how a starving country will allow adults and kids die by the thousands, and yet to keep the world from focusing on that will militarily attack disputed islands and do other things just short of war to keep things confused.

It shows the depth of evil in a communist dictatorship. Often, I am asked why I back a large western military. The answer to me is simple. Evil lives on. Everyone should read this book (or listen to it via Audible) to obtain a clearer understanding of what can happen in a totally corrupt nation -- even to the "privileged".

This is a book a thinking person will be very glad they took the time to read.

20 of 22 people found this review helpful

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A Rare Glimpse into the North Korean Psyche

Any additional comments?

This work of non-fiction is not only informative, but it also offers the drama of a novel. It's impossible to stop listening once you start.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Stop browsing and get this Book

Warning this book my cause you problems at work and or in your relationships. Because once you start listening you can't stop.

22 of 25 people found this review helpful