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.Read more...
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Publisher: Dreamscape Media$49.99
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.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-06-29
- Reviewer: Staff
The most effective element in Jang’s often tragic, thought-provoking memoir documenting her life in 1970s North Korea is the conversational, anecdotal mode in which it is told, akin to an oral history. Jang, recounting her story to Amnesty International Media Award–winning journalist McClelland, spares no detail of her harrowing upbringing in North Korea during a decade of famine, when she was often starving and was locked inside the house by her grandmother during the day. Jang attempts to better her circumstances by crossing over to China illegally, which results in her arrest, and marries an abusive man who, with Jang’s mother’s aid, sells her son, Sungmin, to a couple who live on a naval base. Subsequently, Jang is bedridden, “receiving no rations... after a week I had to return to work.” Lamenting the loss of her son and rejecting offers from other suitors—“I didn’t want another man. I wanted Sungmin”—she sets out to find him on the naval base, but the search proves fruitless. Her escape is suspenseful as she becomes a refugee in Mongolia and, ultimately, Toronto. (Oct.)