“A terrifying true story of life in North Korea…Told in simple prose, this is a shocking and devastating tale of a country’s utter contempt for its citizens.” —Kirkus Reviews
“In his achingly straightforward memoir, Ishikawa vividly describes the horrendous conditions that the tyrannical and cultish state inflicts on its people…Ishikawa relates his painful story with sardonic humor and unwavering familial love even in the depths of despair, making human the often impersonal news coverage of mysterious and threatening North Korea.” —Booklist (starred review)
“Like Kang Chol-hwan’s The Aquariums of Pyongyang (2001)—the book that spurred President George W. Bush’s commitment to helping the people of North Korea—Mr. Ishikawa’s…descriptions of North Korean poverty are chilling, as are his accounts of the corruption and repression that dominated every aspect of life there…searing, swiftly paced.” —Wall Street Journal
“Masaji Ishikawa was born in Japan to a Korean father but repatriated as a boy to the supposed paradise of North Korea. Newly translated into English, this account of his life and appalling times should become a classic.” —South China Morning Post
“We often turn to books to help us understand people, experiences, and worldviews different from our own. If you’re looking to further your education in 2018, pick up A River in Darkness: One Man’s Escape from North Korea. In his memoir, translated from Japanese, Masaji Ishikawa recounts his turbulent childhood and life under a totalitarian regime in North Korea. Yes, you’ll learn about the country’s politics, leaders, and economy. But more importantly, you’ll learn about the people who live there and what it’s like to be on the lower end of the social hierarchy.” —HelloGiggles
“Compulsively readable and heart-wrenching, A River in Darkness reveals the daily cruelty of North Korea’s government to its poorest people. In this memoir, the victim is a young Japanese-born Korean who settles in the North with his parents, only to endure privation and abuse, as those he loves die of exhaustion, hunger, and loss of hope.” —Blaine Harden, New York Times bestselling author of Escape from Camp 14 and King of Spies: The Dark Reign of America’s Spymaster in Korea
About the Author
Born in 1947 in Kawasaki, Japan, Masaji Ishikawa moved with his parents and three sisters to North Korea in 1960 at the age of thirteen, where he lived until his escape in 1996. He currently resides in Japan.