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Archive: Other Books > A River In Darkness: One Man's Escape from North Korea by Masaji Ishikawa - 3 stars

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message 1: by Joy D (new)

Joy D | 5213 comments A River in Darkness: One Man's Escape from North Korea by Masaji Ishikawa - 3 stars

Memoir of Masaji Ishikawa wherein he relates the details of his life from being born in Japan in 1947 to moving with his family to North Korea, where they were promised “paradise on earth,” to his escape to Japan in 1996. Unsurprisingly, the so-called paradise never materialized, and his family’s standard of living gradually diminished until it reached starvation-level.

Ishikawa tells his story in a very straight-forward conversational manner. This memoir delivered educational information about life in North Korea under Kim Il-sung. It is often a gut-wrenchingly difficult read, as he and his family dealt with such an array of appalling circumstances, such as racism, brutality, discrimination, threats, policies that made no sense but were mandated to be followed, brainwashing of the masses by the government, and death of family members. Short but powerful. Recommended to those interested in Korean history, especially first-hand accounts of life in North Korea.

Memorable quotes:
“When you find yourself caught in a crazy system dreamed up by dangerous lunatics, you just do what you’re told.”

“No one thought or talked about anything except food. When we could manage to get around, we spent all our time searching and searching for anything remotely edible. We were nothing but a bunch of ravenous ghosts. The barely living dead.”

Link to My Review:

message 2: by Jeremiah (new)

Jeremiah Cunningham | 717 comments Glad to see someone else pick up this book. I gave it a slightly higher rating (4 stars). I found at times I had a hard time even grasping the reality of what he lived through. It just simply seems impossible that anyone could survive.

The second quote you have here was one of my favorites as well. "The barely living dead."

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