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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating insight into the world's most secretive country
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...
Published on 2 April 2008 by A. Biden

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting subject but not very engaging or detailed
A first person account of how life was in North Korea for one boy, so inevitably he does not describe the regime, politics or structure of the country.

I wanted to learn more about the power the leading family have, so this was too light for my particular interest. Easy reading but I was not gripped and did not finish feeling I understood much about life in...
Published on 22 Mar 2012 by CharleyBear


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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating insight into the world's most secretive country, 2 April 2008
By 
A. Biden (Surrey, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: This Is Paradise!: My North Korean Childhood (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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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Society on the edge of a collective nervous breakdown!, 6 Oct 2005
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling and un-putdownable., 8 Sep 2010
By 
This review is from: This Is Paradise!: My North Korean Childhood (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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A child's perspective makes all the difference, wonderful and easy read!, 20 Mar 2014
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This review is from: This Is Paradise!: My North Korean Childhood (Paperback)
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for all, 29 Dec 2013
By 
Hanna (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: This Is Paradise!: My North Korean Childhood (Paperback)
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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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating insight into N Korea, 10 Aug 2006
I read this book just after having re-read George Orwell's '1984' and found some chilling similarities between today's North Korea and the fictional worst-imaginable facist state. The only let-down with this book is the very poor translation from the original French version. If you can read French, I recommend getting the original.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but short, 2 Sep 2009
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This review is from: This Is Paradise!: My North Korean Childhood (Paperback)
This is a good introduction to life as a child in North Korea. It's not as authoritative as Aquariums of Pyongyang which I have also read, but it is very easy and quick to read. This Is Paradise deals with normal life in North Korea - in contrast to Aquariums of Pyongyang which is mostly about life in a forced Labor camp. Please note that this is quite a short book.

I highly recommend This Is Paradise and if you enjoy, then Aquariums of Pyongyang is a perfect choice for further similar reading.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A heartbreaking tale from North Korea, 7 Jun 2012
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This review is from: This Is Paradise!: My North Korean Childhood (Paperback)
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 Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader: North Korea and the Kim Dynasty.

We will probably see more books like Hyok Kang's as more people manage to escape North Korea. Every single person has a tale to tell and none of them will be pleasant.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The real daily life in North Korea, 2 Feb 2006
By A Customer
The idea of the co-author of the book (a journalist) to have a north korean kid tell of his daily life in this harrowing country is great. One always have doubts somehow about accounts of life in North Korea, with all its horrors.But when a kid tells it, it brings an added sense of truthfulness. This witness account is about real life in Kim Jongil's "paradise". I learned more about North Korea in this book than with any other. It makes a great read.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Please Help Free North Korea, 20 Aug 2013
This review is from: This Is Paradise!: My North Korean Childhood (Paperback)
This is a book everyone really must read.

It is time for everyone enjoying life in the free world to know how cruel life is in the hermit kindom of North Korea.

Would you like to live on a soup made of straw and pine tree bark?

Would you like to regard the hordings of a rat a luxury to eat?

Would you like your children to have to beg for a few morsels of food, and watch them die from hunger?

Would you like your children beaten up at school almost every day by the teachers?

Would you like your son to regard a rat as a luxury meat to eat?

If your answers are 'NO' to these questions - buy the book, read it, then send your copy to your MP, and ask him or her what he or she are going to do about North Korea.

The book is an amazing read - I read it in one sitting of five and a half hours. Once you start you simply cannot put it down. The story is not pretty, but it is essential reading for anyone who cares about our fellow human beings and their children.

Aid to North Korea is not the solution because the aid doesn't find its way to the needy. A better and more effective solution is required, otherwise there will be no one except the leaders left in North Korea - everyone else will be dead from starvation and / or brutality. The population of the whole of North Korea is little more than double the population of London and its declining daily.

Get this book - it is a 'MUST' to read!
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This Is Paradise!: My North Korean Childhood
This Is Paradise!: My North Korean Childhood by Hyok Kang (Paperback - 5 July 2007)
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