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Aquariums of Pyongyang

by

Aquariums of Pyongyang Cover

ISBN13: 9780465011049
ISBN10: 0465011047
All Product Details

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A searing story of starvation and survival in North Korea, followed by a dramatic escape, rescue by activists and Christian missionaries, and success in the United States thanks to newfound faith and courage

Inside the hidden and mysterious world of North Korea, Joseph Kim lived a young boy’s normal life until he was five. Then disaster struck: the first wave of the Great Famine, a long, terrible ordeal that killed millions, including his father, and sent others, like his mother and only sister, on desperate escape routes into China. Alone on the streets, Joseph learned to beg and steal. He had nothing but a street-hardened survival instinct. Finally, in desperation, he too crossed a frozen river to escape to China.

There a kindly Christian woman took him in, kept him hidden from the authorities, and gave him hope. Soon, through an underground network of activists, he was spirited to the American consulate, and became one of just a handful of North Koreans to be brought to the U.S. as refugees. Joseph knew no English and had never been a good student. Yet the kindness of his foster family changed his life.  He turned a new leaf, became a dedicated student, mastered English, and made it to college, where he is now thriving thanks to his faith and inner strength. Under the Same Sky is an unforgettable story of suffering and redemption.

Synopsis:

Part horror story, part historical document, part memoir, part political tract, one man's suffering gives eyewitness proof to an ongoing sorrowful chapter of modern history.

Synopsis:

An inspirational memoir chronicling the life of Joseph Kim, who not only survived and escaped the devastating famine in North Korea as an abandoned young boy, but made it to the United States and is now thriving in college here.

Synopsis:

North Korea is today one of the last bastions of hard-line Communism. Its leaders have kept a tight grasp on their one-party regime, quashing any nascent opposition movements and sending all suspected dissidents to its brutal concentration camps for "re-education." Kang Chol-hwan is the first survivor of one of these camps to escape and tell his story to the world, documenting the extreme conditions in these gulags and providing a personal insight into life in North Korea. Part horror story, part historical document, part memoir, part political tract, this record of one man's suffering gives eyewitness proof to an ongoing sorrowful chapter of modern history. New edition with a new preface by the author.

About the Author

Kang Chol-hwan lives and works in Seoul, where he is a staff writer for Chosun Ilbo, a daily newspaper in South Korea. Pierre Rigoulot is a journalist, historian, and human rights activist living in Paris, France. He is the author of numerous books on the history of political repression and contributed the North Korean chapter to the best-selling The Black Book of Communism (Harvard University Press).

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Shoshana, January 19, 2009 (view all comments by Shoshana)
A memoir by a child whose family, though highly politically active on behalf of Kim Il-Sung's government, was interned in Yodok, one of North Korea's labor camps. He was there for 10 years, through his late childhood (age 9) and adolescence. Though then released, he remained under observation. Threatened with a return to the camps because he listened to South Korean radio, he fled to China, then to South Korea.

The memoir is interesting and serviceable, if not literary. Although there are many statements about emotions, the narrative is more expository than demonstrative. I particularly would have liked to know more details about the family's interactions in the camp (for example, did they share food they stole, or was it everyone for himself?) and about how he manages the emotional and psychological consequences of fleeing the country, knowing that this would bring potentially extreme negative consequences to his remaining family.

It could have uses a better editor, both for narrative flow and structure. In addition, it would have benefited from further attention to details. For example, Kang reports that his first detail as a child detainee was on a team that carried meter-long logs from the mountains to the village 3-4 kilometers away. He says that it took 12 round trips (72 to 96 km, or about 47.5 to 63 miles) to meet the daily quota from 1:00 PM on. Assuming they worked from 1:00-9:00 PM, probably an overestimate, with no breaks, the children would have had to cover 6 miles an hour at a minimum, on foot, carrying "terribly heavy" meter-long logs half the time. It's simply not possible. He then goes on to say that it added up to 40 kilometers in 12 round trips.That's still over 26 miles in a shift, with logs, but makes each leg of the trip 1.67 kilometers, not 3-4 (p. 71). If you assume that, though difficult to miss, this was an editorial error, that's fine. If, like some reviewers, you think he's exaggerating in a more general way, it is worth taking a look at other escapees' (and Amnesty International's) accounts of oppression in North Korean and similar dictatorships, which substantiate his assertions even if some details are suspect.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780465011049
Author:
Chol-hwan, Kang
Publisher:
Basic Books (AZ)
Translator:
Reiner, Yair
Author:
Talty, Stephan
Author:
Kang, Chun-Won
Author:
Kang, Chun-Won
Author:
Rigoulot, Pierre
Author:
Kim, Joseph
Author:
Kang, Chol-hwan
Subject:
Asia - General
Subject:
Travelers
Subject:
Personal Memoirs
Subject:
Asia
Subject:
Biography - General
Subject:
| Travel | Asia
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Cloth
Publication Date:
20050831
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
from 9
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
288
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 1 lb
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects

Biography » Artists, Architects, and Photographers
Biography » General
History and Social Science » Asia » General
History and Social Science » Asia » Korea
History and Social Science » World History » 1650 to Present
History and Social Science » World History » Asia » General
History and Social Science » World History » Korea
Travel » Asia » General

Aquariums of Pyongyang New Trade Paper
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$16.95 In Stock
Product details 288 pages Basic Books (AZ) - English 9780465011049 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by ,
Part horror story, part historical document, part memoir, part political tract, one man's suffering gives eyewitness proof to an ongoing sorrowful chapter of modern history.
"Synopsis" by , An inspirational memoir chronicling the life of Joseph Kim, who not only survived and escaped the devastating famine in North Korea as an abandoned young boy, but made it to the United States and is now thriving in college here.
"Synopsis" by ,
North Korea is today one of the last bastions of hard-line Communism. Its leaders have kept a tight grasp on their one-party regime, quashing any nascent opposition movements and sending all suspected dissidents to its brutal concentration camps for "re-education." Kang Chol-hwan is the first survivor of one of these camps to escape and tell his story to the world, documenting the extreme conditions in these gulags and providing a personal insight into life in North Korea. Part horror story, part historical document, part memoir, part political tract, this record of one man's suffering gives eyewitness proof to an ongoing sorrowful chapter of modern history. New edition with a new preface by the author.
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