Must Read Books About North Korea

Must Read Books About North Korea

North Korea fascinates me, maybe because it’s a place that gets so much attention, yet we know so little about. I’m so intrigued by the stories of what goes on beyond the border and the people who live there and escape. Here are some of the books I have read about North Korea and the defectors who have escaped that have fascinated me.

In Order To Live – Yeonmi Park

Written by Yeonmi Park who is now a famous activist for North Korean human rights, this book was the first I read about North Korea. It’s a real eye opener and a bit of an emotional roller coaster as she retells her story leaving North Korea, through China, and Mongolia until her arrival in South Korea. I read this book in about two days, I couldn’t put it down because it was so intense.

Dear Leader – Jan Jin-Sung

This one is one that I found very interesting. It is written by a North Korean who was in the party’s inner circle, offering a different perspective to any of the other books I’ve read. This books details much more about the political side of the party and how some of the propaganda works, which is super fascinating. The reason for his defection is probably mind blowing for anyone who lives outside of North Korea, and highlights what can go wrong, even at the top.

Nothing to Envy – Barbara Demick

Following the stories of different people and their lives in North Korea, the reason for their escape, and life on the Outside. This is a good book to get a perspective of life from different people from different walks of life. Retelling the history of lives including love stories, family struggles, job struggles, it paints a picture of ordinary life for North Koreans.

The Girl With Seven Names – Hyeonseo Lee

I found this one very similar to In Order  To Live. While not as intense and emotional it’s a fascinating story about how one can adapt in a new country and use their survival instincts under pressure. It is the story of a unique way of escaping both North Korea and China.

On the reading list:

  • Escape From Camp 14
  • Without You, There Is No Us
  • The Aquariums Of Pyongyang
Must read books about North Korea

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