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The Girl with Seven Names (2015)

by Hyeonseo Lee, David John

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6473427,680 (4.25)43
In 1997 the author, aged 17, escaped North Korea for China. Her mother's first words over the telephone to her lost daughter were "don't come back". The reprisals for all of them would have been lethal. Twelve years later she returned to the North Korean border in a daring mission to spirit her mother and brother to South Korea in a very costly and dangerous journey. This eloquent book offers the first credible account of ordinary life in North Korea and gives an extraordinary insight into the life under one of the world's most ruthless and secretive dictatorships.… (more)
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» See also 43 mentions

English (32)  Spanish (1)  All languages (33)
Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
I enjoyed this book immensely. I had never read a book about life in North Korea and this one did not disappoint. The perseverance of Hyeonseo is truly admirable. I followed along her adventures till the very end. Recommended. ( )
  janismack | Oct 14, 2021 |
Kitabı okurken, Kuzey Kore gerçekleri kimi zaman inanılmayacak kadar şok edici olsa da zamanla şaşırmamaya başladığınızı fark ediyorsunuz. Kuzey Kore'den kaçıp legal bir kimlik bulmaya çalışan Hyeonseo Lee'nin mücadele dolu hayatını anlatıyor kitap. İyi ki denk geldim diye düşündüğüm kitaplardan. Kesinlikle okumalısınız. ( )
  SultanNurK_Gucuk | Aug 11, 2021 |
A memoir by a North Korean defector that tells the story of her initial escape from North Korea into China at the age of 17, her subsequent life in China hiding her identity, and her eventual move to South Korea and journey back to the border to get her mother and brother out of North Korea. The story was honest and fascinating. I was struck, as I often am, by how, as bad as things were for Hyeonseo, she only got as far as she did with the significant help of luck and privelege. I was also struck by the ordinary moments of humanity, friendship, love and teasing in North Korea. I think we are so used to viewing North Korea as an impenetrable fortress that we forget about the humanity of it. ( )
  dafnab | Jul 7, 2021 |
Hyeonseo Lee grew up in a fairly privileged family in North Korea and was semi-insulated from the horrors of the North Korean regime. Although she witnessed a hanging and saw some effects of the famine while travelling to visit relatives, she was preoccupied with dancing to illegal South Korean pop music and wearing foreign clothes to school rather than her uniform. Because her family lived on a border town, her mother made some extra money smuggling Chinese goods and her brother played with Chinese boys on both sides of the river separating the two countries. She decides that she too wants to experience the excitement of crossing into China before she turns eighteen and is no longer protected by being a minor. So without telling her mother, she heads out for some adventure.

Thus begins Lee′s life as a defector. After a couple of close calls with human traffickers and a Chinese gang, she settles down in Shanghai into a comfortable life translating for South Korean executives. One day she boards a plane for Seoul with her Samsonite luggage and seeks asylum. A few years later she arranges to bring her mother and brother to Seoul as well. They have a much more harrowing, and seemingly more typical, experience. But thanks to a wealthy stranger, they too make it to South Korea.

Lee′s story is smoothly told, and she is clearly intelligent as well as lucky. She has become a voice for North Korean defectors, has spoken at the UN on human rights abuses, and given a TED talk. But despite its polish, or perhaps because of it, I found myself questioning parts of her narrative. Compared to the memoirs of other North Korean defectors, her experience does not appear to be the norm. Interested readers might also check out [Nothing to Envy] which relies on interviews with dozens of North Korean defectors. ( )
  labfs39 | Apr 10, 2021 |
Another story of North Korea which is adding to information about this little known country. The story is quite extraordinary. She kind of just slipped away. A young girl she already was strong and aware and was able to survive. Read for bookclub, March 2021. ( )
  Kristelh | Mar 25, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lee, Hyeonseoprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
John, Davidmain authorall editionsconfirmed
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(Prologue) I was awoken by my mother's cry.
(chapter 1) One morning in the late summer of 1977, a young woman said goodbye to her sisters on the platform of Hyesan station and boarded the train for Pyongyang.
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In 1997 the author, aged 17, escaped North Korea for China. Her mother's first words over the telephone to her lost daughter were "don't come back". The reprisals for all of them would have been lethal. Twelve years later she returned to the North Korean border in a daring mission to spirit her mother and brother to South Korea in a very costly and dangerous journey. This eloquent book offers the first credible account of ordinary life in North Korea and gives an extraordinary insight into the life under one of the world's most ruthless and secretive dictatorships.

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As a child, Hyeonseo Lee was one of millions indoctri
nated in N Kprea by the world's most secretive and brutal regime. And yet, having survived the chaos, starvation and repression of the Great Famine, she dared to escape to China in 1997 aged just 17. Knowing reprisals for herself and her family would be lethal if she returned, this lonely, vulnerable teenage immigrant tried to make a life for herself on the run.She discovered that a life with no identity, no reason to exist, was no easier than life inside N Korea. Now an acclaimed international campaigner, her brave and remarkable voice testifies to past horrors, and offers the most truthful account of ordinary life in N Korea.
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