THE STORY THEY COULDN'T HACK: In this international bestseller, a high-ranking counterintelligence agent describes his life as a former poet laureate to Kim Jong-il and his breathtaking escape to freedom.
As North Korea’s State Poet Laureate, Jang Jin-sung led a charmed life. With food provisions (even as the country suffered through its great famine), a travel pass, access to strictly censored information, and audiences with Kim Jong-il himself, his life in Pyongyang seemed safe and secure. But this privileged existence was about to be shattered. When a strictly forbidden magazine he lent to a friend goes missing, Jang Jin-sung must flee for his life.
Never before has a member of the elite described the inner workings of this totalitarian state and its propaganda machine. An astonishing exposé told through the heart-stopping story of Jang Jin-sung’s escape to South Korea, Dear Leader is an “impossibly dramatic story…one of the best depictions yet of North Korea’s nightmare” (Publishers Weekly).
A North Korean defector finds fleeing the Kim dictatorship as nightmarish as living under it in this harrowing memoir. Jang, now a journalist in South Korea, worked in the North Korean government s United Front Department for espionage and psy-war penning propaganda; he won fame, riches ( individual rations on a weekly basis, instead of household rations ), and a Kafkaesque audience with Kim Jong-Il for a fulsome poem praising the Dear Leader ( Lord of the Gun/ Lord of Justice/ Lord of Peace/ Lord of Unification ). Jang s rare high-level insider s perspective on the North Korean system is especially eye-opening; drawing from secret archives, he relates how devious bureaucrat Kim Jong-il usurped the power of his father Kim Il-sung, but he hits hardest in scenes juxtaposing the frenzied glorification of the Kim cult with the starvation and brutalization he witnessed among ordinary people. Much of the book is a thriller-like narrative of Jang s 2004 escape into the netherworld of illegal North Korean refugees in China, where he drifts, penniless and hunted by the police, through the glittering wealth and hard-edged anomie of modern Chinese cities, dependent on the kindness of random strangers. Jang s almost impossibly dramatic story is one of the best depictions yet of North Korea s nightmare.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Extremely moving and insightful
Recommended to anyone interested in the secretive state. Highly recommended.
Hard to read since 80% of the characters are named Kim. Could have used a good editor to better organized the compelling story.