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North Korea is among the most opaque nations on earth, its regime noted for repression and for the personality cult of its father and son leaders, the late Kim Il Sung and his successor, Kim Jong Il. Kang Chol-hwan draws from firsthand experience in explaining the repression. After the division of North and South Korea, Kang's family returned to North Korea from Japan, where his grandparents had emigrated in the 1930s and where his grandfather had amassed a fortune and his grandmother became a committed Communist. They were fired with idealism and committed to building an edenic nation. Instead, the family was removed without trial to a remote concentration camp, apparently because the grandfather was suspected of counter-revolutionary tendencies. Kang Chol-hwan was nine years old when imprisoned at the Yodok camp in 1977. Over the next ten years, he endured inhumane conditions and deprivations, including an inadequate diet (supplemented by frogs and rats), regular beatings, humiliations and hard labor. Inexplicably released in 1987, the author states that the only lesson his imprisonment had "pounded into me was about man's limitless capacity to be vicious." Kang's memoir is notable not for its literary qualities, but for the immediacy and drama of the personal testimony. The writing, as translated by Reiner, is unadorned but serviceable, a style suited to presenting one man's account of a brutalized childhood. Kang now lives in South Korea, where he is a journalist; his co-author Rigoulot was a contributor to The Black Book of Communism. Together, they have added a chapter to the tales of horror that have come out of Asia in recent years.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Most readers know of the politically bleak and economically disastrous history of North Korea. This affecting and directly written memoir will help make that history personal and specific. Kang, who escaped from North Korea in 1992 and now lives in Seoul, writes with the help of Rigoulot, editor of The Black Book of Communism (LJ 11/1/99). They tell the story of the Kang family, who became prosperous members of the Korean community in Japan in the 1930s but returned to North Korea out of sympathy in the 1960s. At first they lived comparatively well, but soon they ran afoul of paranoid political repression and became one of the many victims of the Korean prison work camps. The details of the gulag are depressingly familiar from memoirs of other Stalinist regimes, but this work is nonetheless important to record and witness. Charles W. Hayford, Northwestern Univ., Evanston, IL
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
I've read descriptions of life in Nazi concentration camps and the Soviet gulag. It's hard to believe, but conditions in North Korean "re-education" camps are far worse!Published 24 days ago by Max Layton
I love that book
Very intense inside look on North Korea's infamous concentration camp.
What an interesting look into the lives of North Koreans. So much brutality and hunger. The world needs to pay more attention to them.Published on June 16 2013 by Amazon Customer
Great book from a point of view rarely heard. Let's hope kim Jung un is more just than kim Jong il.Published on May 26 2012 by Abdul
An essential book on understanding life, politics and ideology in North Korea. While quite gruesome at times, this autobiography sheds light on an otherwise unknown subject:... Read morePublished on June 2 2011 by G. Perlman
An absolutely excellent book. Could not put it down. Like reading Orwell's 1984, but the real life version.Published on Sept. 14 2010 by P. R. Kennedy
I came across this book after reading Tears of My Soul. I have to say that this book is absolutely captivating. It is a very quick read, but the impact will last forever. Read morePublished on July 8 2004 by Everett Littles
In my opinion this book is on par with Alan Patton's "Cry the Beloved Country." It powerfully conveys the plight of foreign oppression with both empathy and clarity. Read morePublished on April 10 2004