Top positive review
A REMARKABLE STORY BY A REMARKABLE LADY
Reviewed in Australia on 20 September 2020
North Korea, a country less than a fifth the size of Texas, is probably the most secretive, yet most fascinating country on the planet. According to the CIA’s World Fact Sheet, it is one of the world’s most centrally directed and least open economies which faces stagnation, underinvestment and chronic shortages, largely as a result of large-scale missile and nuclear programs. Human rights abuses are rife and every aspect of the North Korean’s life is monitored and organised by The State. They are spoon fed propaganda and shielded from outside news and information, so that, according to their keepers, they are the most privileged people on earth. Freedom of movement outside the country is severely restricted, reminiscent of that line in The Eagles’ song, Hotel California: “You can check out any time you like but you can never leave.” So when someone does “check out” – unlawfully -- it’s a big deal. Hyeonseo Lee (her seventh name) checked out. Her autobiography, "The Girl With Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story" explains how. A New York Times bestseller, the book gives an extraordinary insight into one of the world’s most ruthless dictatorships; at the same time it chronicles the author’s harrowing journey from her humble home near the Chinese border, through China, Laos, and South Korea, being forced to double back at times, helping her family -- her mother and brother -- to escape as well. It was a journey that took years in circumstances that would probably lead most people to give up or even take their own lives. Assisted by David John, Hyeonseo Lee has written a masterful, gripping story that will have its readers turning pages as quickly as they would a fast paced thriller. It is a remarkable story by a remarkable lady.