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/repatriation 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 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 17, she decided to escape North Korea. She could not have imagined that it would be 12 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. And 12 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 and 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.
©2015 Hyeonseo Lee (P)2015 HarperCollins Publishers Limited
"The most riveting TED talk ever." (Oprah)
"This is a powerful story of an escapee from North Korea. In the hallowed meeting rooms of the United Nations in New York, ambassadors from North Korea recently sought to shout down stories like this. But these voices will not be silenced. Eventually freedom will be restored. History will vindicate Hyeonseo Lee and those like her for the risks they ran so that their bodies and their minds could be free. And so that we could know the truth." (Michael Kirby, chair of the UN commission on human rights abuses in North Korea)
"When I first met Hyeonseo Lee, the unflinching manner in which she told her story was inspirational. She experienced hunger, coldness, fear, terror, threats and pursuit. All this she had to endure, simply for being a North Korean refugee. But the one thing that she held on to was her humanity, ever stronger as she continuously sublimated her hardships into hope. This is a sad and beautiful story of a girl who could not even keep her name, yet overcome all with the identity of what it is to be human." (Jang Jin-sung, author of Dear Leader: Poet, Spy, Escapee - A Look Inside North Korea)
I've always been interested in North Korea, but this is my first book. Someone had recommended one to me about a male defector, but I wanted to hear a woman's story. I was a bit unsure of the narrator at the start but soon got used to it and grew to really like her voice.
It was a really gripping book and I thought the fact that she is not necessarily the most likeable person made everything feel more real.
I binged listened over a few days and have also
played parts to my family as some of her experiences in North Korea were so astonishing, I wanted to share them.
Definitely worth a listen if you love drama but prefer non-fiction.
This book is heart warming, stressful and exciting.
It provides facinating incite into North Korea, and there people's plight. But also the strength of human character.
I absolutely loved everything about this book! The story, the narrator and the production.
I will not ruin the story for you! I will just say: if you love biographies like me, stories of survival and defiance, this book is for you.
Wow, again another book about North Korea that I couldn't stop listening too.
What a brave girl. An amazing story and well worth the listen.
This book was an epic adventure into the unknown a true master piece and life changer. My eyes have been opened to the meaning of family and friendship and how unfairly people are treated. I feel truly inspired but ashamed of the world for letting these atrocities continue this day in age. Thank you for sharing your life it must of been hard to open up.
'The Girl With Seven Names ' is an amazing, eye opening and well written story. Very captivating ! This book has really changed my perspective; I definitely recommend reading it.
I would listen again, if I had time to re-listen, as this was a complicated story and a second hearing might bring out things I'd missed.
She of the seven names! She is the pivotal, first-person character.
Hyeonseo. The accent sounded very genuine.
It has good-byes that you hope never to experience. Life in North Korea seems shocking to a Westerner.
This book was recommended to me and not the kind of book I usually choose. I was glad to have listened to it as it is a true story and an eye-opener into the way of life in North Korea.
"One of the greatest books I've ever read"
The story of people from North Korea is outstanding. It is hard to believe that at this present time there are still countries run by dictators.
I hardly ever give a book 5 stars and this is my first review but this book is unbelievable, I could barely put it down. This book is a page turner and even though you know the outcome, your heart pounds as you read her journey and that of her family. It is sad at times but overall, an empowering story of strength.
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