Synopses & Reviews
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.
“An up-close, insightful portrait. . . . The Impossible State is a clearheaded, bold examination of North Korea and its future.” Washington Post
“Essential reading for all North Korea watchers. . . . An informative and enjoyable read.” Library Journal (starred review)
“Cha demonstrates an intimate familiarity with the regimes contradictions. . . . The thesis is clear: the worlds most closed-off state needs to open up to survive, but breaking its hermetic seal may well precipitate its demise.” The New Yorker
“An eye-opening view of the closed, repressive dictatorship of North Korea. . . . A useful, pertinent work for understanding the human story behind the headlines.” Kirkus Reviews
“A meaty, fast-paced portrait of North Korean society, economy, politics, and foreign policy by an expert who has studied the regime as a scholar and interacted with its officials.” Foreign Affairs
“Ask those who deal with national security what worries them most and at the top of the list or near it youll always find North Korea, a place about which we know little to nothing. Thats why Victor Chas book is so valuable.” Bob Schieffer, CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent
“The Impossible State is provocative, frightening, and never more relevant than today as an untested new leader takes charge of the worlds most unpredictable nuclear power.” Andrea Mitchell, NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent
“Told with poise and dignity, Kim’s story, coauthored by Talty (Hangman
, 2014, etc.), provides vivid documentation of a remarkable life. It also offers an important account of atrocities committed within North Korea that have been hidden from the West—and indeed, most of the rest of the world. A courageous and inspiring memoir.” — Kirkus Reviews
“This short, brutish book—with chapter-ending cliffhangers presaging the next hard twist—will enlighten readers as to the devastating hardships facing those living in North Korea during the ‘great famine.’” — Booklist
"[A] page-turner—fast-paced, suspenseful and novelistic. . . Searing."
—Wall Street Journal
“Vital to our understanding of life in North Korea.”
"There's something riveting about his honesty; he portrays the bleak conditions, dwindling resources, eternal uncertainty, and loss of dignity with an unashamed matter-of-factness almost at odds with the desperate circumstances...Kim's tale is a vital insight into a little-understood country and a modern day tragedy."
—Publishers Weekly, starred review "This short, brutish book—with chapter-ending cliffhangers presaging the next hard twist—will enlighten readers as to the devastating hardships facing those living in North Korea during the 'great famine.'"
—Booklist “Told with poise and dignity, Kim’s story…provides vivid documentation of a remarkable life. It also offers an important account of atrocities committed within North Korea that have been hidden from the West—and indeed, most of the rest of the world. A courageous and inspiring memoir.”
Former White House official Victor Cha has written the definitive volume on North Korea, arguably the worlds most menacing and mysterious nation. In The Impossible State, Cha, a singular expert on the region, exposes North Koreas veiled past; sheds light on its culture, economy, and foreign policy; and explores the possibilities of its uncertain future in the post-Kim Jong-il era. A timely and engaging insiders look at a volatile, and isolationist Asian juggernaut, The Impossible State will carry readers far deeper into this frighteningly adversarial country than theyve ever traveled before.
In The Impossible State
, seasoned international-policy expert and lauded scholar Victor Cha pulls back the curtain on provocative, isolationist North Korea, providing our best look yet at its history and the rise of the Kim family dynasty and the obsessive personality cult that empowers them. Cha illuminates the repressive regime's complex economy and culture, its appalling record of human rights abuses, and its belligerent relationship with the United States, and analyzes the regime's major security issues—from the seemingly endless war with its southern neighbor to its frightening nuclear ambitions—all in light of the destabilizing effects of Kim Jong-il's death and the transition of power to his unpredictable heir.
Ultimately, this engagingly written, authoritative, and highly accessible history warns of a regime that might be closer to its end than many might think—a political collapse for which America and its allies may be woefully unprepared.
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
About the Author
Victor Cha is the former Director for Asian Affairs at the National Security Council, where he served as an adviser to the president from 2004 to 2007. The recipient of two Outstanding Service Commendations during his tenure at the White House, Cha is also the award-winning author of Alignment Despite Antagonism: The United States-Korea-Japan Security Triangle and Beyond the Final Score: The Politics of Sport in Asia. His writing has appeared in Foreign Affairs, International Security, and Political Science Quarterly, among other journals. Cha currently holds the D. S. Song Chair in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and is a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.