Jang Jin-sung, poet and producer of propaganda has a privileged life as a member of Kim Jon-il's inner circle, although this is not enough to protect him from the consequences of breaking a minor security rule. Along with a friend he flees the Democratic Republic of North Korea, ending up in South Korea via China.
Revealing many aspects of the inner workings of the totalitarian regime, this is a riveting story of escape as well as a fascinating insight into the little known 'hermit kingdom'. [Small font]
Comments from Groups
This was an enlightening book for the whole group. None of us had a full idea of the workings of the Kim regime, nor of the dreadful deprivation in this country. The escape story was quite riveting, but the last third of the book was less gripping, and less clearly told. To read about the long reach of the North Korean government so long after the author's escape was a surprising and disturbing detail. Gisborne 003
Great discussion. We were quite shocked to find out about life in North Korea. Ashburton 004
A difficult book and a grim story. It is hard to believe that a nation can be so completely brainwashed and apparently helpless to complain about it - in fact at the time of writing they knew no different.At the end we were given an indication that the population are "seeing the light".
The author was a remarkably brave man and he had a lot of luck making his escape. It seems his life is still precarious. We did not 'enjoy' the book, but feel it is important that the wider world know what is happening in North Korea. Hamilton 026
We all thought that parts of the book were fascinating, and others tedious. We certainly know more, and understand more about North Korea, and I don't think that any of us will be travelling there any time soon! It's hard to believe that one man has such power over his people, who just seem to accept it. We gave it 8/10. Masterton 013
Some of the group found the writing a bit laboured, but all were happy to read such an enlightening book in order to try and understand what life in North Korea was like. Fascinating.
The politics are a little difficult to understand, and the similarities in names and government organisations can be confusing. Would we recommend it? Yes!! Auckland 224
The book was a great success, a real eye-opener regarding the North Korean regime. The writer's story was amazing and the style of writing very readable. [Tauranga 016]
A great surprise to our group who thought this may be political/dry. Instead we met full of enthusiasm to discuss the situation in North Korea (actually happening now). The writing impressed, the information relevant and it created great discussion. Excellent. [Papamoa 001]
While we were all horrified by the Kim regime in North Korea, we admired the courage of Jang Jin-Sung and his friend, as they met so many set-backs on their journey to safety. We were saddened by Young-Min's death, and the fact that Jang had to leave his parents without a proper farewell. This book was a real eye-opener to dictatorial powers that the three generations of the Kim family have pursued. Would recommend this book.
Those who finished the book really appreciated the opportunity for new learning about a culture we have little access to. Some were discouraged by the first two chapters which preceded the actual escape. The escape itself read like an emotional roller coaster, as the author plunged from crisis to elation.
A good read but.....hard to get into and was this real or propaganda Mixed reactions, some enjoyed some didn't, grim reading for sure.
All but one in our group thoroughly "enjoyed" this read. We mostly found it quite hard to get into, but were then rewarded for our perseverance as we learnt so much about how dire and oppressive life is for the North Korean people. An absolute eye-opener.
An enjoyable and informative book, with the essence of truth about it. There is a sense of humanity, whilst at the same time the fatuousness of the pretences and fictions maintained by the regime makes for a disturbed reaction when you recall that the world depicted is in essence true! And there can be no denying that the masses of NK society are ground down by hardship and cruelty....
Brilliant but depressing reading, reconfirming what we understand is still happening today in N/Korea. A book of two "halves" - the technical/historical tyranny of the regime and the humanity and the desperate suffering of its people. Powerfully written and we all learned a lot from it. Well recommended.
A fascinating, gripping and very readable description of the escape from a secret world for the elite, and terrible suffering for the general population. Some readers had little knowledge of North Korea and so were astounded by the book, and were glad to have read it.
Mixed reactions to this one. Everyone agreed about the (currently topical) relevance. Some found the history sections hard to read, one found the content particularly upsetting, and several found the adventure story hard to put down. Discussion was wide ranging and longer than usual.
Our group found this book an eye-opener. We were all very moved by the plight of the North Koreans.
This book was a fascinating insight to life and times in North Korea. We had a prolonged discussion about the hardships wrought on humanity by a most terrible leader, and could see no positive end.
Very lively discussion, stimulating learning about a country we know nothing about. The book was difficult to read initially, but we all became engrossed. Recommended reading for all groups.
'Dear Leader' considerably expanded our ability to interpret North Korea's postures politically. It allowed us to understand that they have several different postures that they use on the world stage for different purposes, and these may have little to do with internal government edicts. It has helped us to understand comments currently being broadcast through world media.
The group found this book fascinating and disturbing. A real page turner.
What an eye opener about the real lives of North Korean people and the regime of Kim Jong-Il and the underlying currents of corruption, power and fear. A very topical subject with the current political situation. Definitely a 'must read'.