Joseph Kim (b. 1990) must have shed a lot of tears (or swallowed them) recalling the painful past in writing this 2015 267-page memoir (with Stephen Talty)! From the Prologue to the 57 Chapters and Epilogue, Joseph is frank and bares his soul.
He describes vividly life in North Korea, including how people were treated like animals at the detention centre, how beatings were his regular fate, how inmates were angry not only because of what was happening to them but also because of what they’d become.
The Great Famine was a long terrible ordeal. Equally heart-rending was what happened to his depressive mother and the fate of his sister (to whom this book is dedicated and with whom Joseph has been separated since he was 12 when she was purportedly sold to China as a bride slave).
Alone, Joseph learned to beg and steal. The days of starvation and survival are searing. In desperation, he escaped to China. There, a kind encounter gave him hope. He was eventually brought to the United States as a refugee where he now lives and thrives.
Some of the things described are simply horrendous and incredulous. There’s so much hidden secrets in the mysterious world of North Korea. Anyone who complains about life in Singapore (or elsewhere similar) should read this book.