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Dear Leader: North Korea's senior propagandist exposes shocking truths behind the regime Hardcover – 8 May 2014

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Rider; 1st Edition edition (8 May 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846044197
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846044199
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 2.9 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 186,410 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"A searing true story that takes the reader to some of the most frightening places on earth...utterly compelling...real lyricism...As an historical document, this is an enormously important book that deserves the widest possible readership. As a story of survival, it is an instant classic." (The Times)

"Extraordinary...exciting...A rare portrait of life and death in North Korea...This year a United Nations commission of enquiry found that the Kim regime has committed crimes against humanity. The commission warned China that its treatment of Koreans violated international law. It recommended that the case be tried by the International Criminal Court or a UN tribunal. One day that will happen, and this book will be part of the indictment." (Sunday Times)

"As one of the most prominent North Koreans in exile in South Korea, Jang Jin-sung is eminently placed to interpret North Korea...His memoirs change the way we look at the country...they offer a radically different explanation of who holds power in North Korea and the historical sequence of events leading up to this situation. As such they are an absolute must-read for those who wish to formulate a sensible action plan [for the country]." (Remco Breuker, Professor of Korean Studies, University of Leiden)

"A fascinating insider account… a testament to Mr Jang’s literary flair" (Economist)

"Harrowing...important and convincing...A major contribution to understanding what appears to be a nation impossible to understand" (Observer)

Book Description

A rare and extraordinary glimpse into the reality of life in North Korea, by a member of the powerful elite

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amanda Jenkinson TOP 500 REVIEWER on 29 July 2014
Format: Hardcover
Jang Jin-sung was a member of North Korea’s élite. He was a court poet to the ruling Kim family and a propagandist working in a secret government department that waged psychological warfare on South Korea, trying to convince that country that all is well in the North. He even met Kim Jong Il himself on becoming one of the “Admitted” when still only in his 20s. Privileges undreamt of by most of the population of North Korea were his for the taking. But it all came to an end when he lent a forbidden book to a friend and it was left on a train. Soon traced back to Jang, he and the friend had no option but to flee their country.
Much of the book is taken up with the account of their life on the run until Jang makes it to relative safety in South Korea, but much of the real interest of the book is the account of life in North Korea, and I occasionally found myself bored with the trials and tribulations of his escape, all of which felt somewhat familiar from other escape narratives. But the descriptions of the life of a privileged member of society, the kind of work he was engaged on and passages when he explains the historical and political background I very much enjoyed. I wish more of the book had been about his life before he had to flee.
In spite of my personal reservations, this is an important and extremely interesting account of North Korea and will be of interest to anyone who wants to know more about that benighted country. Jung is now working as a poet in the UK, and it may well be that he has more insights to give us. I hope so.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By stop the war on 14 Jun. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Having heard Jang Jin Sung speak at Kings Place recently, I was interested to read his account of his escape from his homeland, N Korea. My only regret was not reading this account of his escape before seeing him. Although distinguishing between Korean names was hard for my Anglo ears the insight into this terrifying world was a remarkable and although we have our difficulties here in the UK it made me feel very lucky to live in a democracy where we can take our freedom so much for granted.
I thoroughly recommend it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Koetzsch on 4 Oct. 2014
Format: Hardcover
Plenty of books have been written about people who fled North Korea. Barbara Demick's Nothing to Envy and Kang Chol-Hwan's Aquariums of Pyongyang may well be the more well-known among those, but there are a host of other books on the subject. Virtually everyone who made a run for it has a story to tell.

So does Jang Jin-Sung. What distinguishes the author from most of the others is that he had it all made. He wrote the correct poems which allowed him to rise through the ranks and become part of the inner circle. If he hadn't screwed up, i.e., lending a book, which he wasn't supposed to, to someone, who wasn't supposed to have it, and if that someone hadn't lost it, which he wasn't supposed to do, the author could have lived out his days in comfort, or at least as long as Kim Jong-Il was in charge. It was not to be, so the author and his good friend made a run for it.

The interesting part of the book I thought was the adventures (if that is the right word) the two experienced in China. That would be all of Part two and most of Part three. What I found odd is that the actual `how I finally made it to South Korea' constitutes a very small part of Part three and it is also a very undetailed account of how it was done. Included in the latter two parts are also a number of anecdotes on Kim Jong-Il's policies. If you have watched North Korea closely some of these should not be entirely unfamiliar to you. But that as it may be, these chapters are gruesome reading.

What made me smile is the author's description of meeting the dear leader.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Douglas Gurney on 22 Jun. 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book gives so much!
- Good insight into how North Korea is controlled and the terrible suffering that the people of this country have to endure
- Incredible true story of the writer's previous lift in North Korea and his struggles during his escape
- Some Information about comtemporary North Korea

Great as an informative book, which can show the terrible realities of ruthless regimes and human suffering but also written beautifully, it's a factual book but has the qualities of an enthralling novel, which you simply cannot put down. A powerful book that helps the reader connect with the writer and indeed in a sense seems to make the reader connect with every North Korean. You can tell that it's written by a master of words....a poet.

All I can say is God Bless you Jang Jin-Sung, thank you for going through what you did and being brave enough to write about it as you do, you are making a difference and I am glad you have brought your story to me.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By vwozone on 9 Aug. 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've read a lot of similar eyewitness books on North Korea, but this is by far the most shocking and sensational for the level of access the author clearly had to the regime's most guarded secrets, as well as his growing disillusionment and fall from favour, and the details of his escape. The writing style is beautifully poetic and engaging, as he tells his own story of escape interspersed with shocking memories from the rest of his life in the North. His accounts are vivid and heartbreaking, and had me close to tears several times, and he tells his story with a level of detail shorter books cannot.

The book was exactly what I was looking for - It is perfectly accessible to those new to reading about life in North Korea, but full of accounts that will still come as a shock to even the most seasoned reader of similar material. I cannot recommend this book enough.
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