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This Is Paradise!: My North Korean Childhood

By Hyok Kang, Philippe Grangereau

This Is Paradise!: My North Korean Childhood

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Started reading:
15 November 2014
Finished reading:
21 November 2014

Review

In 1998, Hyok Kang escaped from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and somehow lived to tell about it. And no, he didn’t cross the line between North and South: he went through China, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand before reaching the ROK, a longer (four years) journey, but one which was less likely to get him summarily executed. That story is harrowing enough; but the matter-of-fact accounting of his life as a schoolboy in North Korea is enough to make you wonder if the Kims had read Orwell and thought he was writing an instruction manual. An ongoing famine in the middle 1990s — the government, of course, was issuing rosy proclamations of how wonderful things were — persuaded Hyok and his family to flee. North Korea, says Phillipe Grangereau, who met with Hyok and assembled his stories into a book, “is characterised by an extravagant personality cult, a devastated economy, an empire of lies and propaganda and a gulag holding at least ten thousand prisoners.” Too many scenes in This Is Paradise! made me think that we’re next.