Read Jia by Hyejin Kim Online


The first novel about present-day North Korea to be published in the West.A moving and true-to-life tale of courage in the face of oppression and exile.Hyejin Kim’s Jia follows the adventures of an orphaned young woman, Jia, who has the grace of a dancer but the misfortune of coming from a politically suspect family. In the isolated mining village of her childhood, Jia’s fThe first novel about present-day North Korea to be published in the West.A moving and true-to-life tale of courage in the face of oppression and exile.Hyejin Kim’s Jia follows the adventures of an orphaned young woman, Jia, who has the grace of a dancer but the misfortune of coming from a politically suspect family. In the isolated mining village of her childhood, Jia’s father, a science teacher, questions government intrusion into his classroom and is taken away by police, never to be heard from again. Now Jia must leave the village where her family has been sent as punishment to carve a path for herself. Her journey takes her first to Pyongyang, and finally to Shenyang in northeast China. Along the way, she falls in love with a soldier, befriends beggars, is kidnapped, beaten, and sold, negotiates Chinese culture, and learns to balance cruel necessity with the possibilities of kindness and love. Above all, Jia must remain wary, always ready to adapt to the “capricious political winds” of modern North Korea and China....

Title : Jia
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781573442756
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 240 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Jia Reviews

  • Meaghan
    2019-04-13 03:27

    The beginning of this was good, reminded me a bit of Memoirs of a Geisha. And certainly it was a novelty reading a book set in North Korea. I mean, nobody knows anything about North Korea. However, as one professional reviewer pointed out, the book reads like a first draft. It was like the author was trying to cram as many North Korea issues into the story as possible and she couldn't keep track of them all. So many plotlines were simply abandoned and there was basically no ending. Also, the business at the end with that nice guy suddenly deciding to rescue Jia from the brothel and pay for her to learn Chinese and everything for ABSOLUTELY NO REASON pretty much defines the term "deus ex machina." C-minus.

  • Diane S ☔
    2019-04-16 02:27

    3.5 The author was inspired to write this novel because of her work with North Koreans, now living in Northern China. One looks at the cover, the smiling apparently happy little girls, all for show, like most things are in North Korea. They were in fact little girls from a state run orphanage, and played as an honor to important personages and to their leader. A dancer is what all young girls inspire to be, because if they are a dancer they are provided food, shelter and a community of girls. This novel book reads like a memoir, told with little emotion which when one understands what these people go through, all the sorrow in their lives, near starvation, friend disappearing, families murdered., Once one is politically suspect the whole family is punished and all associates are tarred with the same brush, their is not redeeming oneself, they must be forever careful. Jia herself, is a wonder and modeled on a real person, but she also has some amazing luck. When her luck finally runs out and she escapes to China, she eventually meets more people who care about her and help her.. She in fortunate, but many of her friends were no,t as the reader also learns. Many give up, many have hope and keep going, thinking something better is just around the corner. Important book for those who are curious or interested in North Korea. The writing seems simplistic at times, but it is easy to read thought the subject matter is not. So hard to believe that in this day and time so much of this still goes on in the world.

  • Shaun
    2019-03-25 23:23

    This was good. It's a fictional novel about a North Korean who defects to China. It rings true based on actual North Korean defector memoirs that I've read. Some westerners criticize the lack of emotion in the novel but that's how Korean memoirs sound. I don't know enough about Korean culture to say why that is but very often their stories sound impersonal and their affects are flat even when they speak of things that were surely emotionally devastating. Many threads of the story were left open. This would be ok for a true memoir but it was unsatisfying in a novel. None the less, the story was enjoyable and, though the novel is fiction, the reader can learn much here about North Korea and the defector experience in China.

  • Yoonmee
    2019-04-02 04:45

    Okay, here's the deal: This is the first novel about present-day North Korea translated into English, which means it is many readers' first look into North Korea through fiction, which makes this book a pretty big deal. Because of all this, I really, really, really, really, really wanted to love this book. Unfortunately, I don't. I'm not sure if the translation is to blame, but the author fails to really elicit much empathy for Jia. I know that sounds crazy b/c Jia went through some horrible stuff and it seems crazy not to feel empathy for her, but, well, I just don't. The writing is too passive and we're told Jia's emotions as opposed to shown them (show, not tell!). Other characters come in and out of Jia's life (and the plot) but there's almost no character development. It's obvious the author wanted to showcase as many North Korean experiences as she possibly could, so she introduced these characters as sort of stock characters -- the kkotjebi (orphaned, homeless child), the North Korean woman forced into prostitution at the hotel, North Korean women forced into prostitution in China, the soldier boyfriend, etc., but this strategy results in too many characters with no character development and no resolutions for any of them. I'm not expecting neat, pat endings per se, but it was jarring to have so many characters walk in and out of the plot. Sometimes the different characters and their stories didn't really seem to further the plot along. The Kirkus reviewer claims the characters, "pop up and disappear like whack-a-moles," and I couldn't agree more. Here's a quote from the Kirkus review that pretty much sums up how I feel about this book: "Hampered by a persistently passive voice, the action is contrived, and the novel's resolution unsatisfying as a series of events converge to bring the story to a halt, leaving behind lots of loose ends. In need of better editing and character development, the book fails to generate reader empathy. Reads more like an unedited first draft."I'm giving this 3 stars because I believe this is an important piece of literature simply because of the content and timeliness of it, but I would definitely try to supplement this novel with other books about North Korea and the North Korean experience.

  • Indri Juwono
    2019-04-04 05:28

    #2012-03Ketika mendengar nama Korea, apa yang kau ingat? Apakah ponsel Samsung, tanaman Ginseng, olimpiade Seoul, atau melodrama mengharu biru dan grup penyanyi beranggotakan banyak orang?Sadarkah bahwa semua itu hanya terjadi di Korea Selatan? Dan apa yang terjadi di Korea Utara jauh berbeda 180 derajat. Tahun 80-an, di Korea Utara masih ada gulag, pembuangan tahanan politik, orang-orang yang tidak disukai oleh pemerintahan karena mengungkapkan pikirannya sendiri. Jia mengalami hal ini. Masa kecilnya dihabiskan di daerah pembuangan yang tandus, sampai ia berhasil dilarikan ke Pyongyang. Tahun 1997, ketika di Indonesia iklim politik mulai goyang, di Korea Utara masih saja ada penangkapan-penangkapan kepada warga yang membelot, yang dianggap kaum pembangkang. Silsilah orang diselidiki. Setiap orang bisa menjadi mata-mata atas yang orang lainnya.Tahun itu, usia Jia 18 tahun, sama denganku di Indonesia. Di sini, aku bisa bersekolah sebagai langkah menuju cita-citaku, di Korea Utara, Jia bekerja sebagai penari tanpa tahu cita-citanya, terjebak dalam cintanya pada seorang tentara yang ia takutkan sikapnya apabila sampai tahu apa yang ia sembunyikan di masa lalu. Dan akhirnya ia melihat tanah seberang sebagai impian. Dan jalan keluarnya harus dibayar mahal...Yang menciptakan batas itu hanyalah sekelompok penguasa dengan tentara sebagai anteknya, tidak memberi penghidupan yang layak di negaranya, namun tidak mengijinkan rakyatnya untuk bahagia di tempat lain. Orang-orang kecil selalu menjadi korban atas batas.

  • Amanda Van Parys
    2019-04-20 04:19

    Of all the things I've read and seen about N Korea (the DPRK), this is the first "fictionalized" account. The author stated this book was based on a person she came to know in real life, but it is also an accumulation of many others as well. The writing style came across as juvenile, blunt, and first-drafty--but this can all be chalked up to translation, which I always try to keep in mind when reading an English translation (especially one for a book that is not a best-seller). However, I really did enjoy the story. After all the second-hand accounts I've read, it is different experiencing it in a first-person narrative--a narrative which also includes all kinds of different ways people survive/escape the conditions they do in N Korea. Kim did a great job in weaving all these important stories and details together into one novel.

  • Debbi
    2019-04-07 03:34

    Jia is a North Korean girl whose family is banned to the mountains because her father was suspected of teaching illegal subject matter in his science classes. With both parents dead, her grandparents send Jia to the city where she ends up being raised in an orphanage. She comes out of the orphanage in the late 90's about the time of the great famines in North Korea. She has dancing and singing talent however, and that gets her a good position until her background forces her to defect to China. Reading how North Koreans are treated in Northern China was quite shocking. I also learned quite a bit about life in North Korea. Excellent read.

  • Jia Jung
    2019-03-30 03:21

    Found this work of fiction while searching the public library catalog for a whole slew of nonfiction writing about Korea, its history, its people, and their psychology...since the book bears my first name, I reserved it with a chuckle and set out to read it almost in amused irony.Turned out, this is one of the best of the many fictionalized accounts of the horrors of either the Korean War or North Korea that exist. The book goes by very fast, and is alternately dreadful and torturously suspenseful until an end that is inconclusive, unredeeming, and depressing, just like the actual situation on the Peninsula and for North Korean refugees trying to make a life in border countries and beyond.I started taking this book seriously beginning with the author's introduction to the book, in which she divulges that her own father had been imprisoned in South Korea upon accusations of harboring Communist sentiment. As a result, she did not recognize him when he returned home one day when she had grown from a baby into a little girl. After a lifetime of a South Korean's learned aversion to North Korean people, she met a refugee of the DPRK and began learning about the woman's side of the story. This book is a result of these real life interactions and privileged knowledge garnered about a country and a people that the rest of the world still knows so very little about despite all the rogue journalists who think they are always providing the next most shocking exposé.Most striking was how the author imparts the stuck-in-time-ness of North Korea. I kept on thinking I was reading a Korean War era story because of the horrors and the destitution, but then kept getting snapped back to the realization that much of the plot takes place during the late 1990s, when famine had descended upon the country and people began to really risk their lives to get out...and when I was growing up perfectly happy, well fed, and free in the USA.The only thing that would make this five stars would be if it were a hundred percent true, and came with recommendations for what the average concerned citizen could do to help people like Jia. Then again, I feel sick enough as it is from the tragedies and separations constructed by the author's imagination, and can't imagine how much more devastating it would be to know such events had befallen an actual person, though this could be, and pretty much is, any North Korean's story. I feel like this book's slipped past people's radars when others got attention. It's definitely worth picking up, and can be devoured in just a couple days' commute.

  • The Book
    2019-04-09 00:39

    A man on a bus once asked the author where she was from. When she replied Korea, he asked her 'Which Korea?'"I frowned; I didn't understand what he meant. 'South Korea or North Korea?' I was completely thrown. I watched his face for another moment. 'South or North?' I wondered."I was captivated by this sentence. I wondered to myself, how can you not know if you are from North Korea or South Korea? I'm aware of the hostile feelings between the two countries, and the DMZ that divides North from South. I even spent some time on Jeju island in South Korea while studying Korean at university. How could you not KNOW? (The answer was that as a South Korean, the author had been brought up to believe North Korea wasn't a real country.)The subject of this novel is important; it's about a North Korean woman who tries to escape North Korea for a better life in China, and tells of her experiences and those of a couple of her friends. While interesting, illuminating and terrifying, what this novel didn't do was evoke any empathy, or tug on the heartstrings. Jia seems so cloaked, you can't get close to her, and don't really even know who she is or her true emotions. Does she even feel strong emotions? That really let the novel down in my opinion.

  • Courtney
    2019-03-26 22:41

    Read this before I head to South Korea this week just to get some understanding of Korean culture, etc. Devoured it in 1 day at the expense of sleep and school but it was more than worth it. It is straightforward, honest, and gives an amazing look into the lives of North Koreans and refugees to China. I particularly enjoyed the authors focus on how life moves on, that when horrible things happen to us the human spirit doesn't always wail and wallow but silently mourns and then repairs. I also liked the main character's fiery spirit even in situations where you think it might just be best for her to go along with the situation, with the result that sometimes things are made worse by her fighting, but sometimes things are made better.

  • Daisy
    2019-04-07 23:28

    The back of the book says it's the first novel about present-day North Korea and that it's based on a true story. The introduction, which I read after the novel, tells of the author meeting a North Korean woman on a bus in China and how that encounter inspired the novel. I kept googling photographs of Pyongyang while I was reading it to enhance the visual side of the content. While it feels like many of the WW2 novels I've read about escaping and hiding and refugees, this takes place in the mid-1990s, not very long ago. Keep that in mind. The story-telling/writing is only okay, with a clunky translation, but the material is shocking and worth knowing.

  • Carol Rizzardi
    2019-04-20 02:35

    I'm not sure if it's a cultural issue, a translation issue, or just a personal preference issue, but I didn't enjoy this book. It's a first person account of a young girl in N. Korea who is left alone because of of political reasons. It's worth a read to see inside the Orwellian world of N. Korea, but definitely not for literary merit.

  • Bonnie
    2019-04-18 01:19

    A very heavy and informative book, about North Korea and the conditions of refugees to China along the border. I listed it as a historical novel, though the same conditions apply today. One of the ongoing tragedies and criminal behavior by those in power of our times.

  • Brian Shevory
    2019-04-13 23:33

    This was a great book. While the writing wasn't outstanding and there were some plot issues, I found that I struggled to put this book down. I wanted to know what would happen next in this compelling story of a young woman's escape from North Korea.

  • Breanna Garcia
    2019-04-09 03:36

    This book was very good! This book took me through the life of a North Korean girl who's family had been banished to the mountains. In the book she is able to venture away from her family and start on her own in the main city of North Korea. There she becomes and orphan who is put in a dancing school to dance for the main dictator. As she grows older she runs into a lot of trouble being very limited to what she can do giver where she comes from and her background. I recommend this book, it is a good read!

  • TS Allen
    2019-04-12 04:21

    I found this while rummaging through Itaewon Foreign Language Books in Seoul.

  • Cindy Choo
    2019-03-24 04:48

    Rating 3.5

  • SM Hong
    2019-04-19 04:41

    Great insights on the stifling environment in North Korea. But the organisation of the book could be done better. the ending was rather abrupt too.

  • Michiyo 'jia' Fujiwara
    2019-04-12 04:27

    Ini adalah sebuah kisah yang untuk pertama kalinya..mengintip bagaimana hidup dan kehidupan masyarakat Korea Utara..bagaimana militer dan klan “ Kim” sebegitu hegemoninya..dengan masyarakat sipil yang ada dicengkeraman mereka..Kisah ini sendiri berawal dari Kim Hyejin..seorang pelintas batas..yang menceritakan teman sesama pelintas batas lainnya: “Jia” adalah kisah yang coba Hyejin ceritakan disini..Jia.. adalah gadis kecil yang hidup dalam sebuah gulag bersama kakek, nenek dan kakak perempuannya.. akibat mereka bisa masuk gulag, ayah dari Jia, mempunyai timbunan buku-buku terlarang (ukurannya buat Korea Utara) dan seorang pemikir yang revolusioner.. satu hal yang dianggap berbahaya bagi pemerintah.. ayah mereka kabur melarikan diri, hilang raib entah kemana.. ada kemungkinan tertangkap, lalu mayatnya dibuang (sepertinya familiar ya) kisah sang ayah ini.. sampai diakhir cerita tak jelas rimbanya.Sampai pada suatu waktu, perkenalan yang tak disengaja dengan seorang tentara yang tersesat.. memberikan peluang bagi Jia untuk keluar dari gulag, dan ada kemungkinan bisa meningkatkan penghidupannya dan pendidikan yang akan diterimanya jika ia berhasil keluar dari gulag. Berbekal foto ibu Jia, seorang penari, anak petinggi militer yang cukup tinggi kedudukannya di Pyongyang, mereka (kakek dan nenek Jia) awalnya beranggapan..kakek dan nenek dari pihak ibu akan menyambut dan melindungi Jia.. tapi apa yang terjadi! Ketika Jia pada akhirnya berhasil bertemu dengan kakek dan neneknya dari pihak ibu, kakeknya dengan tegas menolak mengakui Jia sebagai cucu dan bahkan tidak pernah menganggap ibu dari Jia..adalah putri yang pernah dimilikinya.. semua karena apa? Cuma karena ayah Jia.. bahwa segala sesuatu yang sifatnya ‘menentang arus’ dianggap berbahaya dan jangan pernah sedikitpun untuk berpihak atau bahkan mendekati sang ‘penentang arus’.Penolakkan dari sang kakek memaksa Jia..untuk tinggal dalam rumah yatim piatu. Tapi untung, berkat bakat yang diwariskan oleh ibunya..Jia menjadi penari dan ia tumbuh menjadi gadis remaja. Perkembangan Jia, terus beriringan dengan nasib yang menimpa negerinya, Korea Utara dengan sistem pemerintahan yang mereka anut, memaksa penduduknya sendiri..untuk hidup dengan segala keterbatasan..sampai pada batasnya, mereka merasa tidak sanggup lagi untuk hidup nyaman (kenyang makan) sebagian dari mereka..mencoba melintas batas..menuju negeri yang diharapkan akan memberikan kehidupan yang lebih baik buat mereka..Cina..mulai dari sini. Kisah Jia..dibagi lagi dengan kisah ‘Sun dan Gun’..sepasang kekasih yang terpisahkan karena sistem pemerintahan yang dianut oleh negeri mereka; Korea Utara.Bagaimana akhir kisah Jia..bagaimana kisah kelanjutan Sun dan Gun?Dan bagaimana sepak terjang Korea Utara selanjutnya..? Kalau yang ini kita tinggal.. tunggu.. tanggal mainnya..

  • Trupti Dorge
    2019-04-14 23:27

    Jia is a novel based in North Korea written by a South Korean. Interesting right? It’s also supposedly the first novel about present-day North Korea to be published in English. The author was inspired to write this novel when she met a women, she calls Jia, while traveling on a bus in China.In the book, Jia spent the first 5 years of a life in a North Korean Mountain Gulag where her elder sister and her grandparents have been sent as a punishment for something their son did. Her grandparents manage to smuggle her out of the gulag so that she could have a better life. Jia is sent to an orphanage in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, where she lives for the next 15 years of her life.The rest of the book is how she struggles to survive in her own country by hiding her identity. As she says in the book I didn’t understand why my life couldn’t be my own, why there was always a chain, emerging from deep in the past, stretching into the present, that bound me to my fate.I’m sure there are(were?) thousands of North Koreans who think that way, whose present and future revolves around their past. It’s sad to see to see how much a government can control the lives of their citizens.The author brings out the desperation and loneliness of Jia very well. When Jia has to leave North Korea to survive, we also get to know how Jia and the people she meets along the way have to run from North Korea to seek a better future in-spite of all the risks. It’s a heartbreaking book for sure, but it’s also a glimpse into thousands of North Korean lives.I loved how this book could take me to a place I’ve never been before. She describes the 13th World Festival of Youth and Students that was held in the country. She describes how the government puts up a front for the international audience. She also shows the state that the country and it’s people went into during the The North Korean famine. I found many parallels in this book and Long Road Home by Kim Yong, a memoir of an escaped prisoner from North Korea.On the flip side, the writing was very amateurish. I could tell this was the authors first book. It was also not properly structured and the narrative kept jumping from one person to another. I think the author wanted to include everything that she learned about the North Korean lives while she was working with the refugees in China. It reads more like a page turning memoir than a novel.Nonetheless, this is one book I would definitely recommend because this book and the events are still fresh in my mind and I keep thinking about all the characters in it. If you know nothing about North Korea, this book might fill that gap in some way. If not for the writing, this book could have been excellent, but I guess ‘very good’ is not bad either.

  • Ivan
    2019-04-14 02:44

    I have been meaning to read this book for a long time as I am highly interested in Korean culture. North Korea in particular is a topic that pulls at your emotions and as horrible as the events are, they are nonetheless intriguing to read about. Jia is a novel about a girl who becomes an orphan, then a dancer, escapes North Korea to China, and of course the events in between. It is reminiscent of an autobiographical journal that makes you think that with all the people trying to escape the north, there must be some truth to all of it in some form of other.Jia is a character who never quits even through her weak times. She has to go through disillusionment and learn to adapt with the help of others. I particularly liked the character of the kkotjebi because he gave Jia so much hope and he was really a strong ally. The scenes with him were the hardest to read and the rough train ride as well. But him, along with most of the other characters, disappeared and were unheard of after their events with Jia. Unfortunately the story is not completely strong since I felt the ending was being rushed. The author either ran out of storyline or just wanted Jia to reach safety as soon as possible. The girl is just too lucky and kind of gets by everything in a breeze. A cliffhanger type of ending is a let down. Still made for an interesting read.

  • Marina
    2019-03-27 22:28

    ** Books 197 - 2014**Buku fiksi ini menceritakan kisah Perjuangan Jia seorang gadis yang merupakan putri dari seorang penari yang telah meningal dan seorang ayah yang ditangkap menghilang karena memiliki koleksi buku yang terlarang. Gadis ini tinggal dan tumbuh bersama kakek neneknya dari pihak ayahnya di gulag, pegunungan korea Utara. Suatu ketika kakeknya memiliki rencana agar Jia bisa keluar dari Gulag dan bisa pergi ke ibukota Korea Utara, Pyongyang disinilah kehidupan keras Jia dimulai. Mulai dari tinggal di Panti asuhan, menjadi penari, menjadi mata-mata korea utara semua kehidupan itu dilakoni Jia dan teman-temannya. Pada akhirnya Jia memutuskan memilih untuk kabur dari penderitaan hidupnya, mencari kehidupan baru yang lebih layak dan manusiawi untuknya, namun begitu sulit untuk menghapuskan luka dan kenangan di masa lalu yang selalu melekat diingatannya buku ini bagus ketika kita harus mengikuti perjalanan demi perjalanan kisah hidup Jia dan mendapat gambaran betapa kerasnya hidup di Korea Utara yang memiliki paham komunis dan sangat jauh berbeda dibandingkan Korea Selatan yang memiliki paham nasionalis. buku ini saya berikan 3,4 dari 5 bintang! :)

  • Kathleen Dixon
    2019-04-10 02:30

    This book, unfortunately, does not live up to its blurb and that is a crying shame. The abuses in North Korea, that remain current today (see this article for a start), and the appalling treatment of North Korean refugees by the Chinese, should be highlighted in a way that gets the people of the world talking (forget the politicians - they're always being too strategic to actually care about humanity).But this book isn't going to be the one that fires us up because 1) the writing style is pedestrian, 2) the reader feels compassion for Jia, but doesn't warm to her, 3) the reader is left completely in the dark over the fate of several key characters, and 4) the book has no ending - it just stops.It seems that the book was rushed to the printer without being edited. This is a good draft, and I really hope that the author can come back to it some time, get some good critique, re-draft it, get a good editor, and give us a book we can recommend.

  • ah li
    2019-03-24 03:42

    a very difficult book to read. i picked up the book because i wanted to understand about north Korea. its as though all the worse things that could happen is within the book - of separation, of betrayal, of losing everything and their world crumbling around them. the story is tragic, heart wrenching, troubled, tortuous and utterly heartbreaking to go on. i had wanted to give up several times on the book but decided to plough on until the end as not knowing how jia became is more agonizing than the details. Its really sad to not know what became of her grandparents, parents. sister and her companions. but wherever you are, i hope life is better for you now jia. i hope you are safe now. all the best jia, keep living your life and i hope one day you will be able to put the horrors of your life away.

  • Edmond Luu
    2019-03-21 21:40

    "Jia" by Hyejin Kim is a great book. It gives a lot of detail on North Korea and how it is while mixing it into a fictional story. The story was gripping and was indeed sad as we saw the main character, Jia going through hard times while she was in North Korea and in China when she escaped. The story really shows us how life in North Korea was back then and how tough it was under the North Korean dictatorship. Also, there was a lot of real events that happened in North Korea that were explained in this story, such as the 1990's famine. With those facts, it truly gave me an understanding what has happened in North Korea over these past decades. I am giving this book a 4 star review due to the fact that the ending was a bit dull and it wasn't a strong one. The story could very well go a bit longer and it can create a better ending.

  • Antonia
    2019-04-10 01:25

    Somewhere between 3 and 4 stars, so I'm nudging it up instead of down. Confession: I really did buy this book because of the cover — all those young Korean girls playing too-large accordions. Yes, I'm partial to accordions (and play one, too). Also, I've been interested in reading more about North Korea ever since I read Adam Johnson's The Orphan Master's Son. I really enjoyed the entire book. I liked the voice and style well enough. But the story seemed to end far too abruptly, and on someone else's story, not Jia's. I wanted to know more about what happened between Jia and Jim, if anything. I wish the book could have followed their relationship, or at least Jia's life, a little further. Still, I liked it a lot.

  • Sara
    2019-03-27 21:39

    It's astonishing to realize that the events in this book take place in the past 20 years and it makes you sympathize with the current refugees from Syria and other places in the Mideast. Based on true events in N Korea, the protagonist portrays life under the previous 2 dictators, first in an orphanage, then as a highly esteemed dancer with privileges, and then as a refugee attempting to live in China. As we know, N Koreans are desperately poor but I hadn't known that the government has instituted a caste system based on political allegiance and that its citizens shun those outcasts as well.

  • Solanasaurus
    2019-04-11 00:27

    I loved this book and read it quickly. For all the talk of North Korea in the news we hear so little about what life has been like there in the past decades. I was particularly moved by the author's introduction describing her impression of North Korea as a young South Korean. I was surprised that, even there, very little is known or shared about this country. Hyejin Kim's fictional account of repression and daily life in North Korea, as well as the dangerous migrations into China, felt exceptionally real. It's a moving story of human survival that neither romanticizes nor demonizes those who are left with no options but to do what they can to stay alive.

  • Victoria
    2019-04-01 01:38

    i had to buy this for one of my classes for next semester, and had free time so i figured i'd read it sooner rather than later. i find it hard to explain why i didn't "like" it. it was definitely easy to read and the writing was fine, but i don't like being reminded that there are different worlds in the.. world.... like on the one hand i live in the ~first world~ where life is pretty enjoyable; at least, relatively speaking. and then there are these other worlds where people get thrown in jail for stupid things and lose their families and WHATEVER it just makes me feel really restless. hopefully i can forget this ever happened and go back to living with my normal, ignorant state of mind.

  • eti
    2019-04-13 02:23

    #52 - 2014Korea Utara. satu negara yang tak dapat kubayangkan seperti apa. tak seperti saudaranya -Korea Selatan- yang hangat karena gingsengnya dan populer dengan budaya K.pop-nya. Korea Utara sama sekali jauh dari jangkauan, yang ada di pikiran saya hanya suatu negara yang membentengi dirinya sendiri dari pihak luar, penganut paham komunis dengan Pemimpin yang diktator.dan membaca kisah dalam buku ini kita jadi sedikit tahu sisi lain dari Korea Utara. dibalik kejamnya hidup, ada juga sisi kemanusiaan yang menyentuh.