A River in Darkness:  One Man's Escape from North Korea

A River in Darkness: One Man's Escape from North Korea Review

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The harrowing true story of one man’s life in—and subsequent escape from—North Korea, one of the world’s most brutal totalitarian regimes.

Half-Korean, half-Japanese, Masaji Ishikawa has spent his whole life feeling like a man without a country. This feeling only deepened when his family moved from Japan to North Korea when Ishikawa was just thirteen years old, and unwittingly became members of the lowest social caste. His father, himself a Korean national, was lured to the new Communist country by promises of abundant work, education for his children, and a higher station in society. But the reality of their new life was far from utopian.

In this memoir translated from the original Japanese, Ishikawa candidly recounts his tumultuous upbringing and the brutal thirty-six years he spent living under a crushing totalitarian regime, as well as the challenges he faced repatriating to Japan after barely escaping North Korea with his life. A River in Darkness is not only a shocking portrait of life inside the country but a testament to the dignity—and indomitable nature—of the human spirit.

Title:A River in Darkness: One Man's Escape from North Korea
Edition Language:English

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    Some Testimonial About This Book:

  • Emily May

    Serfdom is freedom. Repression is liberation. A police state is a democratic republic. And we were “the masters of our own destiny.” And if we begged to differ, we were dead. This is one powerful...

  • Lo

    The short version: This is easily the best firsthand narrative about life in North Korea that I've found, and it's a gripping, well-written story in its own right. If you haven't read anything like th...

  • Sara

    It's been a while since I read anything in one sitting, but this was utterly heartbreaking and compelling. Masaji Ishikawa and his family moved to North Korea during the great migration of Japanese/Ko...

  • Xavier (CharlesXplosion)

    A breathtaking real, unfiltered view of life in North Korea as a Japanese-Korean. Not all tales end happily, but Masaji Ishikawa's story exemplifies the resilience of the human spirit and importance o...

  • Chandra Claypool (wherethereadergrows)

    My first love in books is horror followed closely by psychological thrillers. When I read nonfiction/memoirs, I typically stay somewhat within the same genre - true crime, etc. As a half South Korean ...

  • Marilyn Hitesman

    The horror of life in North KoreaBeyond comprehension. The atrocities are being silenced but must be made known. No one should endure what these people do....

  • Alaina Meserole

    I feel like I've been on a non-fiction kick lately and I've loved every minute of it.What first got my attention was the cover. I don't really know how else to explain it other than say it intrigued m...

  • Janelle

    A RIVER OF DARKNESS by Masaji Ishikawa (translated by Risa Kobayashi and Martin Brown) Thank you so much to Amazon Publishing for sending me a free copy - all opinions are my own. “Someone once said...

  • Staci

    Tragic. That one word sums up this entire memoir.I've read both Fiction and Non-Fiction books about North Korea which has provided me a pretty good background about what life is like there. What I did...

  • Beverly K

    Oh god, that was the most depressing book I've read in a long time. There is literally no light at the end of the tunnel for Mr. Ishikawa. On the one hand, it was a fascinating and disturbing tale of ...

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