The Girl With Seven Names

The Girl With Seven Names

A North Korean Defector's Story

Book - 2015
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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 to 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 seventeen, she decided to escape North Korea. She could not have imagined that it would be twelve 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. Twelve 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, 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. Gold title - Hyeonseo gave a TED talk this year generating worldwide publicity, and reaching almost 2 million hits. She is becoming a more and more prominent advocate of human and women's rights. - Hyeonseo is a polished speaker. Her English is improving and her Chinese, North and South Korean are fluent. - Increases daily in all things North Korea, one of the last countries to remain behind the bamboo curtain. - Hyeonseo Lee is a woman who has escaped from North Korea; working to reach the bestseller list will seem, for her, like a piece of cake by comparison.
Publisher: London : William Collins, 2015
Copyright Date: ©2015
ISBN: 9780007554843
0007554842
9780007554836
0007554834
Branch Call Number: DS934.6.L44 A3 2015x
DS934.6.L44 A3 2015x
Characteristics: xvi, 304 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (chiefly colour), maps, portraits ; 24 cm
Additional Contributors: John, David 1966-- Author

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savtadina
Sep 12, 2018

I've read several other books about North Korea, one about a Korean American teaching elites there and another about a North Korean fleeing this country. This book was different. Hyeonseo Lee (his seventh and final name) grew up in relatively secure life in a town bordering on China with parents with "good class" and with food on their table. Her brainwashing began in school, where she learned her country was the most prosperous in the world, that South Korea started the Korean ware, and that the country's leader was extremely caring for the people and suffered for them. On a lark,at age 17 she crossed the border to visit a relative and stayed several days, making it impossible for her to return.

The book tells of her growing up in North Korea, her ten-year sojourn, mostly in China, with illegal papers, her finally reach South Korea, her reunion with close family members, and their adjustment to life. For the first part of the book, I saw her as a selfish, relatively spoiled child and pushed myself to continue reading, but she great in many ways and her spirit pushed her forward. She has helped North Korean defectors adjust to life in South Korea and to gain respect and has spoken internationally about her country of birth. It definitely is worth reading.

Amazing book, a must read. Easy to read but very well written. Finished it in a day.

a
AspenJules
Aug 09, 2018

A very good book. I was often concerned about continuing as I struggled with what she might face, but in spite of many hardships she was courageous and hopeful. I read this for my book club and though it was one I probably would not have chosen to read on my own, I'm really glad I did. A great look at what life in North Korea is for the people who live there, and the difficulties they face when they encounter what the rest of the world is really like.

This is well written ( way better than Do Not Say We have Nothing) but it is still just one woman's story of good luck, being in the right place at the right time and some clever out-witting of guards. It is interesting to read about her pining for her home country despite the abuse of its citizens.

c
clevylee
Mar 20, 2018

Wonderful book--in depth study of North Korean culture through the eyes of a girl who risked her life in breaking through.

r
RoyalSemaphore
Feb 22, 2018

Among the BEST books that I have read. A cliff-hanger and a wonderful peek into how life is lived in North Korea. The writing captured the emotional sense of each twist and turn. An AMAZING story, extremely well told.

l
LucasHill
Sep 25, 2017

I have read better narratives and stories about North Korea, such as The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson and A Kim Il-Jung Production by Paul Fischer. This story was too halting for my tastes (the author likes to uses phrases such as "What happened next was to test me more than anything had before.") I suppose I would use the term melodramatic for this book.

l
lilypad_1
Sep 01, 2017

This is a very good look at how North Korea brainwashes kids from the day they are born. You want to laugh at how they revere "the great leader" but it isn't funny when you hear what they are taught about "yankees". This gal didn't even believe the lies and corruption when she was told it in China and South Korea. The ordinary North Korean lives a subsistence level life but the upper echelon live "high on the hog". They blame everything that is wrong in their world on the yankees.
This helps me understand the thinking behind N. Korea's current animosity towards us- even if it is all based on lies- it drives their every move.

j
jericho_0
Jul 21, 2017

This book gives great insight into what it is like to grow up in North Korea. The book was an interesting read that I couldn't put down. Highly recommend reading this book.

PimaLib_LoisM Jun 29, 2017

This is an amazing book that I could not put down. The author was so brave to attempt and succeed in escaping from North Korea into China and eventually South Korea. Lee gives us an inside look into how North Koreans are indoctrinated from birth on; and the difficulties they face in learning how to learn to live in a free society after growing up in North Korea.

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