Thursday, July 16, 2009

Escaping North Korea

Before I read Escaping North Korea (Mike Kim, 2008), I never could've imagined seeing contemporary China as a place of freedom and refuge. But to refugees from North Korea, it's exactly that--a place of comparative political and religious freedom, and, oh, plentiful food.

Kim, a Korean-American Christian, spent four years in China near the North Korean border, helping a network of house churches that protect North Korean refugees. His book is a straightforward account of what he saw and heard from escapees. It's not artfully written or filled with sophisticated political analysis, but there's a certain power in the straightforward simplicity of the accounting of horrors. It's mindboggling, really, to think of a country as thoroughly broken as North Korea, and sobering to speculate on how much it would take to rehabilitate it if Kim Jong-Il's regime collapsed tomorrow.

But, as you'd expect in this kind of book, there's hope, too. If you can read the "Freedom on the Fourth" chapter without tearing up, you're made of sterner stuff than I am.

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