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on July 9, 2012
Demick documents the before and after-defection lives of 6 former North Koreans who tried to exist in that unbelievably cruel and twisted regime. Some people in that country continue to believe the propoganda and many still do not know that options are indeed available to them across the barbed wire borders!
I read this after reading Escape from Camp 14; now I have a much better understanding of what has been going on in that country.
Good reads.
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on August 31, 2010
I read it in one day and could not put it down. What a great storyteller. It could have been dry like some other books I have read about North Korea but she made all these people come alive and I found myself rooting for these defectors and I do hope that they found happiness in South Korea or elsewhere. I'm only sorry that I read it so fast rather than a little a day to make it last!
Normand Shearer, Waterloo, Québec, Canada
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on June 19, 2013
Very thought provoking as North Korea is not a place that one hears about often. Ms. Demick portrays the lives of several people in-depth and very human. It is hard to believe the lengths to which the North Korean government tyrannizes its people. Eye-opening to say the least.
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on December 2, 2013
This book reads like a novel. It offers a GREAT insight into life in North Korea back in the 1990s and today. I would love to get an update on the six featured North Koreans in the book. Demick writes with a perfect balance of journalism and narrative.
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on February 1, 2015
I never realized how hard the lives of North Koreans were until I read this book. I couldn't believe how much their lives were controlled by Kim Il Sung and Kim Jung Un. I love the first person accounts the author weaves into the history of Korea. The love and lives lost makes you want to cry while reading this.
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on April 8, 2013
I wish we could help them somehow! A VERY interesting read - and currently so relevant (as they point their weapons in our direction...) The author introduces us to several families and we get to know their struggles well. Most shocking: these events occurred while I was growing up safe and snug in Canada and worrying about hairstyles and home decor! The author cleverly weaves their stories seamlessly with the politics of the country and of the rest of the world in recent history - often jolting me to awareness with such recent dates that I only associated with things such as college in the 90's, my first job - all my glorious freedom to worry about stupid things.

At times the book reads like a spy thriller full of danger and betrayal; At other times, like a tragic romance novel. The many details about everyday life and human ingenuity give light to shocking insight into human behavior (read "Life of Pi" before we judge the survival instinct), social structure, abusive government control, and systemic abuse. Difficult to read at times, but SO rewarding (a great book to toss at any discontented teenager for a quick lesson in gratitude for what we have and what we have the responsibility to protect). Makes me want to re-read V. Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning".

And by the way: is anybody going to do anything about this? I thought we cared about human rights...I guess it's too bad there isn't any oil in North Korea or we'd have beaten the Russians there and prevented this whole mess. *despondently rolling my eyes*
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on January 24, 2015
Interviews with North Korean defectors provide insight on the lives and tragedies experienced by ordinary North Koreans living under the Kim regimes. Both harrowing and inspiring.
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on June 16, 2014
Gives you info about politics, history and also the day to day lifen in North Korea. You learn a lot about the way people thought when they were still in the country.
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on November 10, 2015
I thanked my friend who introduced me to this book. I recommend this to anyone who's interested in knowing more about ordinary lives in North Korea.
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on February 29, 2016
Great book. Very eye opening.

Some of the stories are a lot cuter and less depressing than I was expecting fron a book about North Korea,
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