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Korea

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  1. 9.6 hrs • 10/13/2015 • Unabridged

    Yeonmi Park has told the harrowing story of her escape from North Korea as a child many times, but never before has she revealed the most intimate and devastating details of the repressive society she was raised in and the enormous price she paid to escape. Park’s family was loving and close-knit, but life in North Korea was brutal, practically medieval. Park would regularly go without food and was made to believe that, Kim Jong Il, the country’s dictator, could read her mind. After her father was imprisoned and tortured by the regime for trading on the black-market, a risk he took in order to provide for his wife and two young daughters, Yeonmi and her family were branded as criminals and forced to the cruel margins of North Korean society. With thirteen-year-old Park suffering from a botched appendectomy and weighing a mere sixty pounds, she and her mother were smuggled across the border into China. In In Order to Live, Park shines a light not just into the darkest corners of life in North Korea, describing the deprivation and deception she endured and which millions of North Korean people continue to endure to this day, but also onto her own most painful and difficult memories. She tells with bravery and dignity for the first time the story of how she and her mother were betrayed and sold into sexual slavery in China and forced to suffer terrible psychological and physical hardship before they finally made their way to Seoul, South Korea—and to freedom. Park’s testimony is rare, edifying, and terribly important, and the story she tells in In Order to Live is heartbreaking and unimaginable, but never without hope. Her voice is riveting and dignified. This is the human spirit at its most indomitable.

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    In Order to Live

    By Yeonmi Park, with Maryanne Vollers
    Read by Eji Kim
    9.6 hrs • 10/13/15 • Unabridged
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  2. 7.7 hrs • 10/5/2015 • Unabridged

    An extraordinary memoir by a North Korean woman who defied the government to keep her family alive. Born in the 1970s, Lucia Jang grew up in a common, rural North Korean household―her parents worked hard, she bowed to a photo of Kim Il-Sung every night, and the family scraped by on rationed rice and a small garden. However, there is nothing common about Jang. She is a woman of great emotional depth, courage, and resilience. Happy to serve her country, Jang worked in a factory as a young woman. There, a man she thought was courting her raped her. Forced to marry him when she found herself pregnant, she continued to be abused by him. She managed to convince her family to let her return home, only to have her in-laws and parents sell her son without her knowledge for 300 won and two bars of soap. They had not wanted another mouth to feed. By now it was the beginning of the famine of the 1990s that resulted in more than one million deaths. Driven by starvation―her family’s as well as her own―Jang illegally crossed the river to better-off China to trade goods. She was caught and imprisoned twice, pregnant the second time. She knew that, to keep the child, she had to leave North Korea. In a dramatic escape, she was smuggled with her newborn to China, fled to Mongolia under gunfire, and finally found refuge in South Korea before eventually settling in Canada. With so few accounts by North Korean women and those from its rural areas, Jang’s fascinating memoir helps us understand the lives of those many others who have no way to make their voices known.

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    Stars between the Sun and Moon

    7.7 hrs • 10/5/15 • Unabridged
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  3. 1 reviews 0 5 4 4 out of 5 stars 4/5 (1)
    10.4 hrs • 7/15/2015 • Unabridged

    An authoritative and frightening investigation into the dark side of North Korean society North Korea is like no other tyranny on earth. Its citizens are told their home is the greatest nation in the world, and big brother is always watching. It is Orwell’s 1984 made reality. Award-winning BBC journalist John Sweeney is one of the few foreign journalists to have witnessed the devastating reality of life in the controversial and isolated nation of North Korea. Having entered the country undercover, Sweeny posed as a university professor with a group of students from the London School of Economics. Huge factories with no staff or electricity, hospitals with no patients, uniformed child soldiers, and the world-famous and eerily empty DMZ—the Demilitarized Zone, where North Korea ends and South Korea begins—are all framed by a relentless flow of regime propaganda from omnipresent loudspeakers. Free speech is an illusion: one word out of line, and the gulag awaits. State spies are everywhere, ready to punish disloyalty at the slightest sign of discontent. Drawing on his own experiences and his extensive interviews with defectors and other key witnesses, Sweeney’s North Korea Undercover pulls back the curtain, providing a rare insight into life there today while examining the country’s troubled history and addressing important questions about its uncertain future.

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    North Korea Undercover by John Sweeney

    North Korea Undercover

    10.4 hrs • 7/15/15 • Unabridged
    1 reviews 0 5 4 4 out of 5 stars 4/5 (1)
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  4. 0 reviews 0 5 4.5 4 out of 5 stars 4.5/5
    12.4 hrs • 3/31/2015 • Unabridged

    Before becoming the world’s most notorious dictator, Kim Jong-Il ran North Korea’s Ministry for Propaganda and its film studios. Conceiving every movie made, he acted as producer and screenwriter. Despite this control, he was underwhelmed by the available talent and took drastic steps, ordering the kidnapping of Choi Eun-hee (Madam Choi)—South Korea’s most famous actress—and her ex-husband Shin Sang-ok, the country’s most famous filmmaker.  Madam Choi vanished first. When Shin went to Hong Kong to investigate, he was attacked and woke up wrapped in plastic sheeting aboard a ship bound for North Korea. Madam Choi lived in isolated luxury, allowed only to attend the Dear Leader’s dinner parties. Shin, meanwhile, tried to escape, was sent to prison camp, and “re-educated.” After four years he cracked, pledging loyalty. Reunited with Choi at the first party he attends, it is announced that the couple will remarry and act as the Dear Leader’s film advisors. Together they made seven films, in the process gaining Kim Jong-Il’s trust. While pretending to research a film in Vienna, they flee to the United States Embassy and are swept to safety.  A nonfiction thriller packed with tension, passion, and politics, A Kim Jong-Il Production offers a rare glimpse into a secretive world, illuminating a fascinating chapter of North Korea’s history that helps explain how it became the hermetically sealed, intensely stage-managed country it remains today. 

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    A Kim Jong-Il Production

    12.4 hrs • 3/31/15 • Unabridged
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  5. 9.4 hrs • 3/17/2015 • Unabridged

    From the bestselling author of Escape from Camp 14, the murderous rise of North Korea’s founding dictator and the fighter pilot who faked him out In The Great Leader and the Fighter Pilot, New York Times bestselling author Blaine Harden tells the riveting story of how Kim Il Sung grabbed power and plunged his country into war against the United States while the youngest fighter pilot in his air force was playing a high-risk game of deception—and escape. As Kim ascended from Soviet puppet to godlike ruler, No Kum Sok noisily pretended to love his great leader. That is, until he swiped a Soviet MiG-15 and delivered it to the Americans, not knowing they were offering a $100,000 bounty for the warplane (the equivalent of nearly one million dollars today). The thief—just weeks after the Korean War ended in July 1953—electrified the world and incited Kim’s bloody vengeance. During the Korean War the United States brutally carpet-bombed the North, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians and giving the Kim dynasty, as Harden reveals, the fact-based narrative it would use to this day to sell paranoia and hatred of Americans. Drawing on documents from Chinese and Russian archives about the role of Mao and Stalin in Kim’s shadowy rise, as well as from never-before-released US intelligence and interrogation files, Harden gives us a heart-pounding escape adventure and an entirely new way to understand the world’s longest-lasting totalitarian state.

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    The Great Leader and the Fighter Pilot

    9.4 hrs • 3/17/15 • Unabridged
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  6. 6.9 hrs • 10/28/2014 • Unabridged

    From an acclaimed historian comes the dramatic story of the Christmas escape of thousands of American troops overwhelmingly surrounded by the enemy in Korea’s harsh terrain. Just before Thanksgiving in 1950, five months into the Korean War, General MacArthur flew to American positions in the north and grandly announced an “end-the-war-by-Christmas” offensive despite recent intervention by Mao’s Chinese, who would soon trap tens of thousands of US troops poised toward the Yalu River border. Led by marines, an overwhelmed Tenth Corps evacuated the frigid, mountainous Chosin Reservoir fastness and fought a swarming enemy and treacherous snow and ice to reach the coast. Weather, terrain, Chinese firepower, and a four-thousand-foot chasm made escape seem impossible in the face of a vanishing Christmas. But endurance and sacrifice prevailed, and the last troopships weighed anchor on Christmas Eve. In the tradition of his Silent Night and Pearl Harbor Christmas, Stanley Weintraub presents another gripping narrative of a wartime Christmas season.

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    A Christmas Far from Home by Stanley Weintraub

    A Christmas Far from Home

    6.9 hrs • 10/28/14 • Unabridged
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  7. 0 reviews 0 5 3 3 out of 5 stars 3/5
    8.6 hrs • 10/14/2014 • Unabridged

    A haunting memoir of teaching English to the sons of North Korea’s ruling class during the last six months of Kim Jong-il’s reign Every day, three times a day, the students march in two straight lines, singing praises to Kim Jong-il and North Korea: “Without you, there is no motherland. Without you, there is no us.” It is a chilling scene, but gradually Suki Kim, too, learns the tune and, without noticing, begins to hum it. It is 2011, and all universities in North Korea have been shut down for an entire year, the students sent to construction fields—except for the 270 students at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST), a walled compound where portraits of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il look on impassively from the walls of every room, and where Suki has accepted a job teaching English. Over the next six months, she will eat three meals a day with her young charges and struggle to teach them to write, all under the watchful eye of the regime.  Life at PUST is lonely and claustrophobic, especially for Suki, whose letters are read by censors and who must hide her notes and photographs not only from her minders but from her colleagues—evangelical Christian missionaries who don’t know or choose to ignore that Suki doesn’t share their faith. She is mystified by how easily her students lie, unnerved by their obedience to the regime. To them, everything in North Korea is the best, the tallest, the most delicious, the envy of all nations. Still, she cannot help but love them—their boyish enthusiasm, their eagerness to please, the flashes of curiosity that have not yet been extinguished. As the weeks pass, she begins to hint at the existence of a world beyond their own—at such exotic activities as surfing the Internet or traveling freely and, more dangerously, at electoral democracy and other ideas forbidden in a country where defectors risk torture and execution. The students in turn offer Suki tantalizing glimpses into their lives, from their thoughts on how to impress girls to their disappointment that soccer games are only televised when the North Korean team wins. Then Kim Jong-il dies, leaving the students devastated, and leading Suki to question whether the gulf between her world and theirs can ever be bridged. Without You, There Is No Us offers a moving and incalculably rare glimpse of life in the world’s most unknowable country and at the privileged young men she calls “soldiers and slaves.”

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    Without You, There Is No Us

    Read by Janet Song
    8.6 hrs • 10/14/14 • Unabridged
    0 reviews 0 5 3 3 out of 5 stars 3/5
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  8. 9.7 hrs • 11/25/2013 • Unabridged

    A famous naturalist and his photographer wife explore China in 1916, a medieval country torn apart by revolution, the Japanese military, and the onset of World War I. Their goal was to shoot, trap, collect, and photograph native animals for display at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Traveling by mule train, they find themselves in conflict with the brutal treatment of Chinese women, the government, the elements, and a closed civilization controlled by the past. From exploring pitch-black bat caves, attempting to hunt and photograph the elusive Blue Tiger, and experiencing the Yen Ping rebellion first hand, this is an exhilarating husband and wife adventure, led by a man said to be the model for the fictitious film character, Indiana Jones.

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  9. 5.5 hrs • 3/29/2012 • Unabridged

    The shocking story of one of the few people born in a North Korean political prison to have escaped and survived North Korea is isolated and hungry, bankrupt and belligerent. It is also armed with nuclear weapons. Between 150,000 and 200,000 people are being held in its political prison camps, which have existed twice as long as Stalin’s Soviet gulags and twelve times as long as the Nazi concentration camps. Very few born and raised in these camps have escaped—but Shin Dong-hyuk did. In Escape from Camp 14, acclaimed journalist Blaine Harden tells the story of Shin Dong-hyuk and, through the lens of Shin’s life, unlocks the secrets of the world’s most repressive totalitarian state. Shin knew nothing of civilized existence: he saw his mother as a competitor for food, guards raised him to be a snitch, and he witnessed the execution of his own family. Through Harden’s harrowing narrative of Shin’s life and remarkable escape, he offers an unequaled inside account of one of the world’s darkest nations and a riveting tale of endurance, courage, and survival.

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    Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden

    Escape from Camp 14

    5.5 hrs • 3/29/12 • Unabridged
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