Book Review: The Girl With Seven

Leah Cho, Contributor

Gripping story of a North Korea woman who fled her native country in search of freedom and happiness. This is a must read. Credit: Google Image

“The Girl With Seven Names,” is a thrilling and daunting book based on a North Korean refugee who puts her life on the line to escape to freedom in South Korea. This is a book that must be read by anyone regardless of age, gender, and ethnicity. The story depicts the ups and downs and harsh realities that any refugee must inevitably face.

The author of the book, Hyeonseo Lee, was raised in North Korea but escaped to China in 1997, where it took more than 10 years to eventually come to South Korea. She then describes the struggle from being confined within the borders of Pyeongyang to eventually having to adjust to one of the most industrialized countries in the world on the other side of the DMZ. It without a doubt penetrates the hearts of the readers and the reader will undoubtedly feel like they are walking with Hyeonseo Lee through her journey.

As a reader, who has never experienced life as a refugee, one can learn through the story how lucky they are to be born in a free country- not having to battle life threats and constant danger. Just being safe at a house with enough food, heat, shelter is a gift in itself. There are dozens of books published regarding the escape to North Korea, yet this book in particular is written holistically by including Hyeonseo’s life from start to present.

It is a raw and unfiltered depiction of a refugee’s life. For instance, Hyeonseo as a child had lived right on the border of the Yalu River, the border that separates both China and North Korea. Being this close to the border sparked her dream of one day crossing the other side of the border. During her escape to the South, there were dozens of moments when Hyeonseo was close to being caught, sent back to labor camps in the North, or even executed. Yet miraculously, she survived every hurdle that came her way.

After escaping, however, she is frank in her book that even after arriving in the South, not everything was so glamorous as she had imagined. This book depicts the incredibly brave woman’s life and shows an unfiltered version of what a refugee faces during his/her lifetime.

For citizens who are fortunate enough to have their own homes and not have to carry the burden of fleeing to another country, this book will give you insight about people who are not as fortunate as us- people who never chose to be born in the country they were born in, yet still, find a way out of a regime so hostile as North Korea. People must read this book because it is an absolute page-turner with a chilling and thrilling plot.