A searing story of starvation and survival in North Korea, followed by a dramatic escape, rescue by activists and Christian missionaries, and success in the United States thanks to newfound faith and courage
Inside the hidden and mysterious world of North Korea, Joseph Kim lived a young boy’s normal life until he was five. Then disaster struck: the first wave of the Great Famine, a long, terrible ordeal that killed millions, including his father, and sent others, like his mother and only sister, on desperate escape routes into China. Alone on the streets, Joseph learned to beg and steal. He had nothing but a street-hardened survival instinct. Finally, in desperation, he too crossed a frozen river to escape to China.
There a kindly Christian woman took him in, kept him hidden from the authorities, and gave him hope. Soon, through an underground network of activists, he was spirited to the American consulate, and became one of just a handful of North Koreans to be brought to the U.S. as refugees. Joseph knew no English and had never been a good student. Yet the kindness of his foster family changed his life. He turned a new leaf, became a dedicated student, mastered English, and made it to college, where he is now thriving thanks to his faith and inner strength. Under the Same Sky is an unforgettable story of suffering and redemption.
In this powerful account of a nightmarish struggle for survival, Kim relives his childhood in North Korea and the horrors experienced by the country during the Great Famine that began in 1995, when he was five. Kim doesn't hold anything back as he details how millions of people slowly descended into a neverending battle to stay alive, doing whatever it took to stave off starvation. He describes his father's death, his mother's imprisonment, his sister being sold into marriage in China, and his own years as one of the homeless kotjebi, or street children. Against all odds, he lives long enough to escape to China, where he's able to start a new life, which ultimately brings him to America. There's something riveting about his honesty; he portrays the bleak conditions, dwindling resources, eternal uncertainty, and loss of dignity with an unashamed matter-of-factness almost at odds with the desperate circumstances: "I noticed something in the toddler's hands: corn chips... Instantly I felt a wild desire to steal the treats out of the baby's hands and devour them. Hunger is humiliation. But hunger is also evil." Kim's tale is a vital insight into a little-understood country and a modern-day tragedy.
Customer ReviewsSee All
This was a great story of perseverance, survival, hope, and salvation! I recommend this title to anyone. It was also very eye opening to me, growing up in America, of the terribly oppressive conditions in North Korea even to this day.