“One of the tragedies of North Korea is that everyone wears a mask, which they let slip at their peril.”
― Hyeonseo Lee, The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story
Hyeonseo Lee’s “The Girl with Seven Names” is her inspirational story of her time growing up in North Korea, and then her incredible escape to South Korea via China over an 11-year-period. She then orchestrated her mother and brother’s defection to South Korea less than a year later.
Lee’s story is one of heroism, fear, and overcoming terrifying circumstances make her escape and defection. When she left North Korea right before her 18th birthday, Lee was intending to defect. She wanted to see China for the first time and visit her relatives there. Then a call came to them after a day in China saying that the authorities knew that she had left the country and to return would be a great danger possibly jail time or execution.
These unexpected circumstances were the impetus that set into motion an unbelievable course of events that Lee recounts in her book. This was an excellent read. The more I read about immigrants illegally fleeing militaristic regimes, or inhospitable countries where their lives are at risk, or places where poverty forces people from their homes and land, I am struck at the various types of people in this world. Those who care nothing for other people and only want to exploit, rob, or hurt other people. The people who are indifferent to the plights of those in need. And then, finally, people who go out of their way to help, aid those in need financially, and risk their own lives to give others a better life.