Jia
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Jia

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  226 ratings  ·  54 reviews
The first novel about present-day North Korea to be published in the West.
A moving and true-to-life tale of courage in the face of oppression and exile.
Hyejin Kim’s Jia follows the adventures of an orphaned young woman, Jia, who has the grace of a dancer but the misfortune of coming from a politically suspect family. In the isolated mining village of her childhood, Jia’s f...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published June 14th 2007 by Cleis Press
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Diane S.
3.5 The author was inspired to write this novel because of her work with North Koreans, now living in Northern China. One looks at the cover, the smiling apparently happy little girls, all for show, like most things are in North Korea. They were in fact little girls from a state run orphanage, and played as an honor to important personages and to their leader. A dancer is what all young girls inspire to be, because if they are a dancer they are provided food, shelter and a community of girls.

Th...more
Meaghan
The beginning of this was good, reminded me a bit of Memoirs of a Geisha. And certainly it was a novelty reading a book set in North Korea. I mean, nobody knows anything about North Korea. However, as one professional reviewer pointed out, the book reads like a first draft. It was like the author was trying to cram as many North Korea issues into the story as possible and she couldn't keep track of them all. So many plotlines were simply abandoned and there was basically no ending. Also, the bus...more
indri
#2012-03

Ketika mendengar nama Korea, apa yang kau ingat? Apakah ponsel Samsung, tanaman Ginseng, olimpiade Seoul, atau melodrama mengharu biru dan grup penyanyi beranggotakan banyak orang?
Sadarkah bahwa semua itu hanya terjadi di Korea Selatan? Dan apa yang terjadi di Korea Utara jauh berbeda 180 derajat.

Tahun 80-an, di Korea Utara masih ada gulag, pembuangan tahanan politik, orang-orang yang tidak disukai oleh pemerintahan karena mengungkapkan pikirannya sendiri. Jia mengalami hal ini. Masa ke...more
Yoonmee
Okay, here's the deal: This is the first novel about present-day North Korea translated into English, which means it is many readers' first look into North Korea through fiction, which makes this book a pretty big deal. Because of all this, I really, really, really, really, really wanted to love this book. Unfortunately, I don't. I'm not sure if the translation is to blame, but the author fails to really elicit much empathy for Jia. I know that sounds crazy b/c Jia went through some horrible stu...more
Maxine
A man on a bus once asked the author where she was from. When she replied Korea, he asked her 'Which Korea?'
"I frowned; I didn't understand what he meant. 'South Korea or North Korea?' I was completely thrown. I watched his face for another moment. 'South or North?' I wondered."

I was captivated by this sentence. I wondered to myself, how can you not know if you are from North Korea or South Korea? I'm aware of the hostile feelings between the two countries, and the DMZ that divides North from So...more
Courtney
Read this before I head to South Korea this week just to get some understanding of Korean culture, etc. Devoured it in 1 day at the expense of sleep and school but it was more than worth it. It is straightforward, honest, and gives an amazing look into the lives of North Koreans and refugees to China. I particularly enjoyed the authors focus on how life moves on, that when horrible things happen to us the human spirit doesn't always wail and wallow but silently mourns and then repairs. I also li...more
Daisy
The back of the book says it's the first novel about present-day North Korea and that it's based on a true story. The introduction, which I read after the novel, tells of the author meeting a North Korean woman on a bus in China and how that encounter inspired the novel. I kept googling photographs of Pyongyang while I was reading it to enhance the visual side of the content. While it feels like many of the WW2 novels I've read about escaping and hiding and refugees, this takes place in the mid-...more
Carol Rizzardi
I'm not sure if it's a cultural issue, a translation issue, or just a personal preference issue, but I didn't enjoy this book. It's a first person account of a young girl in N. Korea who is left alone because of of political reasons. It's worth a read to see inside the Orwellian world of N. Korea, but definitely not for literary merit.
Brian Shevory
This was a great book. While the writing wasn't outstanding and there were some plot issues, I found that I struggled to put this book down. I wanted to know what would happen next in this compelling story of a young woman's escape from North Korea.
Marina Zala
** Books 197 - 2014**

Buku fiksi ini menceritakan kisah Perjuangan Jia seorang gadis yang merupakan putri dari seorang penari yang telah meningal dan seorang ayah yang ditangkap menghilang karena memiliki koleksi buku yang terlarang. Gadis ini tinggal dan tumbuh bersama kakek neneknya dari pihak ayahnya di gulag, pegunungan korea Utara. Suatu ketika kakeknya memiliki rencana agar Jia bisa keluar dari Gulag dan bisa pergi ke ibukota Korea Utara, Pyongyang disinilah kehidupan keras Jia dimulai. Mul...more
Ivan
I have been meaning to read this book for a long time as I am highly interested in Korean culture. North Korea in particular is a topic that pulls at your emotions and as horrible as the events are, they are nonetheless intriguing to read about. Jia is a novel about a girl who becomes an orphan, then a dancer, escapes North Korea to China, and of course the events in between. It is reminiscent of an autobiographical journal that makes you think that with all the people trying to escape the north...more
Violet Crush
Jia is a novel based in North Korea written by a South Korean. Interesting right? It’s also supposedly the first novel about present-day North Korea to be published in English. The author was inspired to write this novel when she met a women, she calls Jia, while traveling on a bus in China.

In the book, Jia spent the first 5 years of a life in a North Korean Mountain Gulag where her elder sister and her grandparents have been sent as a punishment for something their son did. Her grandparents man...more
Michiyo 'jia' Fujiwara
Ini adalah sebuah kisah yang untuk pertama kalinya..mengintip bagaimana hidup dan kehidupan masyarakat Korea Utara..bagaimana militer dan klan “ Kim” sebegitu hegemoninya..dengan masyarakat sipil yang ada dicengkeraman mereka..Kisah ini sendiri berawal dari Kim Hyejin..seorang pelintas batas..yang menceritakan teman sesama pelintas batas lainnya: “Jia” adalah kisah yang coba Hyejin ceritakan disini..

Jia.. adalah gadis kecil yang hidup dalam sebuah gulag bersama kakek, nenek dan kakak perempuanny...more
Huey
a very difficult book to read. i picked up the book because i wanted to understand about north Korea. its as though all the worse things that could happen is within the book - of separation, of betrayal, of losing everything and their world crumbling around them. the story is tragic, heart wrenching, troubled, tortuous and utterly heartbreaking to go on. i had wanted to give up several times on the book but decided to plough on until the end as not knowing how jia became is more agonizing than t...more
Victoria
i had to buy this for one of my classes for next semester, and had free time so i figured i'd read it sooner rather than later. i find it hard to explain why i didn't "like" it. it was definitely easy to read and the writing was fine, but i don't like being reminded that there are different worlds in the.. world.... like on the one hand i live in the ~first world~ where life is pretty enjoyable; at least, relatively speaking. and then there are these other worlds where people get thrown in jail...more
Solanasaurus
I loved this book and read it quickly. For all the talk of North Korea in the news we hear so little about what life has been like there in the past decades. I was particularly moved by the author's introduction describing her impression of North Korea as a young South Korean. I was surprised that, even there, very little is known or shared about this country. Hyejin Kim's fictional account of repression and daily life in North Korea, as well as the dangerous migrations into China, felt exceptio...more
Namitha
I loved the story but the author's style of writing seems too simplistic and lacks emotion for such a poignant tale.
Jamelynn Wong
The hard life of a typical North Korean girl...this book provides many insights into the typical day of a North Korean citizen. They worship the great leader a lot, which is what we already know, but there are others who escape over the border to China. The pity that the author draws out from the reader continues even after the escape to China where they are faced with tip-offs from the local citizens and transported back to North Korea, as is the tragic love story at the end. From more info on...more
Peter
A compassionate storyteller, a compelling story and situation. The author sometimes struggles to keep sentimentality in check, because its wrenching material. The author is a globally-oriented South Korean (US Phd, living in Singapore, studied in China), writing about North Korean refugees in China. I found her approach compelling, and different than how a Western writer might have handled this, though I'm still trying to figure out why exactly.

PS: Loved the cover photo by Kubota-sensei... been...more
Brian
This novel--a tragic, bitter, and in essence profound story woven from trauma, terror, suffering, despair and hope--is the most powerful and fresh narrative I have yet encountered in any medium regarding North Korea. Describing the life of the titular character, a young North Korean female, the taleher birth to parents of less-than-favorable ancestry, her stilted and impoverished childhood, her journey to Pyongyang, her life as a dancer in a North Korean hotel, and ultimately her exodus from Nor...more
Soultari Farid
A glimpse into North Korea. Ending inadequate.
Yura
Jia is the story of a young woman's struggle for survival and freedom.

As I read this book, I felt that I couldn't stop reading.
Jia, who was born an outcast from north korean society, was able to use her talent to save herself from poverty. Her story for survival is bone chilling and suspenseful.

In a sense, I felt as if I was in North Korea.
This book truly gave me an understanding of the struggles many had during the beginning of North Korea's seclusion.
Jen
This was one of those hard to put down books that you end up reading in a few days. Based on true events it follows the life of a girl named Jia growing up in North Korea as an orphan turned refugee who is just fighting to survive. This book was extremely eye-opening and you can't help but feel extreme empathy for the people in the famine-stricken country. The sad part about it was that Jia was arguably one of the lucky ones.
emi Bevacqua
Jia is an okay novel based on an amalgam or composite of actual characters the author came across. I'd already learned a lot about the tragedy that is North Korea in Barbara Demick's highly entertaining book Nothing to Envy and also Ralph Hassig's rather dry Hidden People of North Korea; but I liked this book for the chapters about Sangwon the little kkotjebi (street urchin) that Jia befriends on her escape from North Korea to China.
Cynthia Vissers
this is a very interesting book to read and found myself more than once wondering what I could do to help these people escape from North Korea. I also had to remind myself several times that this book, while fictional, is based on actual events and is set in the 1990s...and it was hard to think that there are indeed humans in this world that are so controlled and supressed by their own government. A very good read!
Michelle
This book was incredibly eye-opening and humbling. This woman is younger than me and has experienced and witnessed such horrific acts performed by her fellow human beings. I had no concept of North Korea's political and socioeconomic situation until I read this book. The ending left me wanting to know more about Jia's life, and wishing for a different ending for many of the people she has encountered thus far.
Leanne Sarubbi
Since reading "The Orphan Master's Son," I have become quite obsessed with North Korea. I was excited when I found this book, but I was disappointed by it. It was okay, just okay. It was certainly interesting and I'm very glad it was written, but it fell a little short for me. I would still recommend it though, as the subject matter needs to be spread.
Belebe
It captivated me right from the start, may be that's because I've always been curious about North Korea and its people. As I read the last page, I couldn't help but feel that the story is incomplete... I want to know if Jia managed to find Sangwon and finally get in touch with her grand parents and sister again! I hope there'll be a sequel!
Neelam Damani
Been meaning to read this for a while, and when I finally picked it up, finished it in a day. Yes, it was tragic, but the author's writing style didn't make me feel uncomfortable; rather, it compelled me to question why these inequalities exist in a communist, supposedly "classless" country. It raised many questions, and truly forced me to think.
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