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This Is Paradise!: My North Korean Childhood Paperback – 5 Jul 2007

32 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; New Ed edition (5 July 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349118655
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349118659
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.8 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 146,787 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

An engrossing picture of a nation that remains closed to the world, aptly described as the "Jurasic Park of communism'' (SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY)

This is an extraordinary story: a simple, yet luminous, account of what it means to grow up in one of the world's little known and most oppressive dictatorships. This North Korean Harry Potter has the evils of tyranny to contend with and escape is the ha (Lisa Appignanesi)

This is a rare and precious insight into the most obscure regime on earth through the startled and observant eyes of a thirteen-year-old boy who not only escaped but survived to tell this harrowing yet intriguing tale. The most penetrating account of life in North Korea I have ever read (Jon Snow)

Kang recounts his life with the kind of deadpan detail that is all the more powerful for its quiet understatement . . . His capacity as a storyteller turns out to be masterly . . . The result is a small jewel of a book, one that moves you with compassion (MAIL ON SUNDAY)

Book Description

A fascinating account and expose of the hardships suffered in North Korea under the regime of Kim Jong-il

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A. Biden on 2 April 2008
Format: Paperback
A brilliant book for those wanting to learn just a little more about life under King Jong-Il. From loudspeakers in every house to pictures of the two leaders on every wall you look, North Korea is proven to be more strange that you could have ever imagined. Hyok describes, accompanied by fabulous drawings, how daily life is like for people (and believe me it definitely isn't easy) and how he, along with his family, dramatically escaped. Well worth a read!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Hanna on 29 Dec. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Quite simply I'm very glad I made the decision to read this book. I am aware of what little coverage the suffering of North Koreans get in the media and even disgusted at the mockery that is made of their terrible situation. I did read this knowing a fair bit about the North through watching documentaries of undercover reporters secretly filming in and around the country. But even so, I learnt so much from this book. At parts, it seemed so extreme for a moment you forget it's real. Yet it is and that's why it's important the world reads this fascinating account for itself. Other reviews did not rate this book, and some could argue that 'lost in translation' is the case (as is in any translated story) but I've read a multitude of accounts since (the television programs are most shocking), all of which claim very similar experiences under the strict North Korean regime.
A compelling read and a must have for anyone who has any care for humanity.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sine Astrid Morris on 20 Mar. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The stories from his North Korean childhood are amazing. We see the propaganda, the harsh school life, the struggle to find food. His resilience and his natural skepticism is so potent and intriguing that it makes for fantastic reading. Stories of catching rats and how to survive the devastating famine still lingers in my mind.
The things that really struck me about his memories are the excerpts from his school textbooks, the self criticism sessions and his life outside of NK. The school material is both hilarious and chilling. They are taught math, history and spelling all with references to the imperialist american bastards and the south korean puppets. I don't think I would be able to handle the criticism and self-critiscism sessions, especially as a child. The mistrust and unpleasantness it inspires in horrible.
But what really made me hurt was his reality once he escaped to South Korea. The bullying, the gang affiliation, the lack of romantic attention and the derision of a people so far removed from each other, it would be like going to school with an alien.

It is a long long walk to get to freedom and happiness for the Korean people.

Wonderfully written, so easy and accessible that it was a joy to acquaint myself with. Would absolutely reccommend to a novice North Korean scholar.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Matteus on 6 Oct. 2005
Format: Paperback
If you want a first-hand account (albeit pieced together with the help of a journalist) of life growing up in one of the world's last and evidently most paranoid totalitarian states, this book evokes the daily grinding hardships of hunger and fear through the eyes of a child. Interspersed with accounts of how the rest of his family and friends deal with the worsening food crises of the late 1990s, it build a picture of a society ground down in the face of the relentless, irrational demands of juche (self-sufficiency). Although the boy makes good his escape from North Korea, the overwhelming misery of a wasted childhood hangs long after.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Gaf the Horse on 8 Sept. 2010
Format: Paperback
I started this book in the morning and completed it at about 12.10am the next day. It was so compelling that I was literally unable to stop reading it, (I did pause a few times to feed the kids and such like). As the events of Hyok Kang's life, the famine that claimed many of his friends, his father's imprisonment, their escape to China and then South Korea my anger that the North Korean regime would do this to their population grew and grew. The book is written in a detached matter of fact style, almost naive in places. Possibly this is a result of the translation from Korean to French to English, but this does give the events even more impact.

I hope that in the near future stories like this will be history rather than current events.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Koetzsch on 7 Jun. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Hyok Kang describes his life in North Korea from birth to the time he fled with his parents in 1998. And it is quite a horrendous tale. This book gives you a good idea of what is going on inside North Korea.

What I found amazing is that Hyok Kang knew that he could trust nobody yet still told his best friends that his family would flee. What an incredible risk he was taking. I am not surprised that the author feels that he is treated like a second-class citizen in South Korea (a lot of east Germans do so in west Germany or so I'm told). I am also amazed that the author believes that unification is inevitable because I don't find that inevitable at all. Having watched the situation for the best part of 20 years it strikes me that if North Korea can be convinced to play ball on the nuclear issue the neighbourhood would be happy to see the country continue to exist under its present regime.

If you found this book interesting you should also read Kang Chol-Hwan's Aquariums of Pyongyang: Ten Years in the North Korean Gulag. The two authors have similar backgrounds, but Kang Chol-Hwan covers more of life at the bottom end of society. You also may want to have a look at Nothing to Envy: Real Lives in North Korea, which is probably the most emotional book I have ever read on life in North Korea. If you want to find out why North Korea turned out that way, I would suggest to read Bradley K. Martin's
...Read more ›
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