The Girl With Seven Names

The Girl With Seven Names

A North Korean Defector's Story

Book - 2015
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An extraordinary insight into life under one of the world s most ruthless and secretive dictatorships and the story of one woman s terrifying struggle to avoid capture and guide her family to freedom.

As a child growing up in North Korea, Hyeonseo Lee was one of millions trapped by a secretive and brutal communist regime. Her home on the border with China gave her some exposure to the world beyond the confines of the Hermit Kingdom and, as the famine of the 1990s struck, she began to wonder, question and to realise that she had been brainwashed her entire life. Given the repression, poverty and starvation she witnessed surely her country could not be, as she had been told the best on the planet ?

Aged seventeen, she decided to escape North Korea. She could not have imagined that it would be twelve years before she was reunited with her family.

She could not return, since rumours of her escape were spreading, and she and her family could incur the punishments of the government authorities involving imprisonment, torture, and possible public execution. Hyeonseo instead remained in China and rapidly learned Chinese in an effort to adapt and survive. Twelve years and two lifetimes later, she would return to the North Korean border in a daring mission to spirit her mother and brother to South Korea, on one of the most arduous, costly and dangerous journeys imaginable.

This is the unique story not only of Hyeonseo s escape from the darkness into the light, but also of her coming of age, education and the resolve she found to rebuild her life not once, but twice first in China, then in South Korea. Strong, brave and eloquent, this memoir is a triumph of her remarkable spirit."

Publisher: London : William Collins, ©2015.
ISBN: 9780007554836
Characteristics: xvi, 304 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates :,illustrations (chiefly colour), maps, colour portraits ;,24 cm
Additional Contributors: John, David 1966-- Author


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Jul 16, 2019

This book was very eye opening. I enjoyed getting to hear the first hand account of North Korea. Definitely recommend this book!

Jan 19, 2019

It was an interesting read. There seemed to be a few too many close calls to me that at times I was doubtful.

The Girl with Seven Names was a fascinating look at North Korea from an accidental defector who lived a more comfortable life than many on the Chinese/North Korea border. Not only did I learn a lot about North Korea, but I learned much about that part of the world in general. Lee’s book was very interesting and I highly recommend it. (Submitted by JF).

Oct 24, 2018

An interesting book on one young Korean woman's escape from North Korea, and her childhood and background. Her older brother's return to North Korea was especially disheartening, and I felt the same when hearing of Chinese from Taiwan, or retired US military types, seeking to live in the totalitarian state of China, as if the ruling class there poses no problems whatsoever!?!?
[This book really reminded me of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - - not being facetious either - - in the utter absurdity of life and her own experiences, et cetera.]

Sep 12, 2018

I've read several other books about North Korea, one about a Korean American teaching elites there and another about a North Korean fleeing this country. This book was different. Hyeonseo Lee (his seventh and final name) grew up in relatively secure life in a town bordering on China with parents with "good class" and with food on their table. Her brainwashing began in school, where she learned her country was the most prosperous in the world, that South Korea started the Korean ware, and that the country's leader was extremely caring for the people and suffered for them. On a lark,at age 17 she crossed the border to visit a relative and stayed several days, making it impossible for her to return.

The book tells of her growing up in North Korea, her ten-year sojourn, mostly in China, with illegal papers, her finally reach South Korea, her reunion with close family members, and their adjustment to life. For the first part of the book, I saw her as a selfish, relatively spoiled child and pushed myself to continue reading, but she great in many ways and her spirit pushed her forward. She has helped North Korean defectors adjust to life in South Korea and to gain respect and has spoken internationally about her country of birth. It definitely is worth reading.

Amazing book, a must read. Easy to read but very well written. Finished it in a day.

Aug 09, 2018

A very good book. I was often concerned about continuing as I struggled with what she might face, but in spite of many hardships she was courageous and hopeful. I read this for my book club and though it was one I probably would not have chosen to read on my own, I'm really glad I did. A great look at what life in North Korea is for the people who live there, and the difficulties they face when they encounter what the rest of the world is really like.

This is well written ( way better than Do Not Say We have Nothing) but it is still just one woman's story of good luck, being in the right place at the right time and some clever out-witting of guards. It is interesting to read about her pining for her home country despite the abuse of its citizens.

Mar 20, 2018

Wonderful book--in depth study of North Korean culture through the eyes of a girl who risked her life in breaking through.

Feb 22, 2018

Among the BEST books that I have read. A cliff-hanger and a wonderful peek into how life is lived in North Korea. The writing captured the emotional sense of each twist and turn. An AMAZING story, extremely well told.

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