The Girl With Seven Names

The Girl With Seven Names

A North Korean Defector's Story

Book - 2015
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Hyeonseo Lee grew up in North Korea but escaped to China in 1997. In 2008, after more than 10 years there, she came to Seoul, South Korea, where she struggled to adjust to life in the bustling city. Recently graduated from Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, she has become a regular speaker on the international stage fostering human rights and awareness of the plight of North Koreans. She is an advocate for fellow refugees, even helping close relatives leave North Korea. Her TED talk has been viewed nearly 4 million times. She is married to her American husband Brian Gleason and currently lives in South Korea.
Publisher: London : William Collins, 2015
Copyright Date: ©2015
ISBN: 9780007554836
Branch Call Number: 92 L5128g 2015
Characteristics: 304 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (chiefly color), maps, portraits ; 24 cm
Additional Contributors: John, David 1966-
Alternative Title: North Korean defector's story


From Library Staff

This book will be discussed at the Friends of the Kirk-Bear Canyon Library Book Discussion Group on October 31, 2019.

Hyeonseo Lee escapes from North Korea as a seventeen year old. This book details how her life changes after she begins life in China and South Korea after her daring escape.

PimaLib_LoisM Jun 29, 2017

This is an amazing book that I could not put down. The author was so brave to attempt and succeed in escaping from North Korea into China and eventually South Korea. Lee gives us an inside look into how North Koreans are indoctrinated from birth on; and the difficulties they face in learning ho... Read More »

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Feb 17, 2021

A good book is one that has relatable characters, an interesting plot line, and leaves you feeling satisfied at the end. A great book is one that leaves you thinking about it long after you've read it. I finished this book probably about a week ago and haven't stopped thinking about it yet. I think it's a combination of sympathy I have for the people in North Korea and also a feeling of gratitude because I have what Hyeonseo Lee called, "the beauty of a free mind." This book was the first one chosen for the brew book club and every single person (so far) has said how much they loved it. It's a life none of us can imagine and in a way almost feels fiction to us. it's hard to believe there are people on the other side of the planet living like this. Every page I turned, I was just like "I could have never been able to do this. There is just no way." Whenever I face a hard situation in life, I know that it will never be as hard as what people escaping North Korea had to go through. Above all else, I think this book taught me the importance of gratitude.

cfitzer1 Aug 12, 2020

An amazing true story - watch you tube interviews / talks also.

Aug 01, 2020

One word, Outstanding!

Jun 19, 2020

I LOVED this book. It's about 11 hours on the audio-book. I listened to the whole thing in 2 days. I HAD to know what happened next. I've read other books on North Korea, but this one is different in that it's not about a North Korean prison (as so many others are). It really describes what it's like to live there and her accidental escape and what that was like for her. I feel like this book should be mandatory reading. It's very well written. She makes so many HARD choices that completely change the course of her life. So many things could have taken her in a different direction, but she maintained control and was in charge of her own destiny. Also makes you think twice about 1st world problems. I really enjoyed this book and have a tremendous amount of respect for the author.

Mar 04, 2020

I read this because my friend Becky recommended it. I enjoyed it very much. The author is a North Korean “defector.” I use the quotes because there was no political aspect to her leaving North Korea. She was an impulsive teenager who wanted to visit relatives in China. She waded across the Yalu River intending to return, but got trapped on the other side due to a crackdown at the border. This is actually typical of so-called defectors there. The brainwashing in North Korea is so complete, so successful, that the citizens there think of South Korea, America, and the west as evil and impoverished – not some place of freedom and wealth, not a place anyone would want to live.

The life she describes in North Korea is so appalling it is mind-boggling, yet growing up in that environment, it seems normal. She had a happy childhood. The book is worth reading just to appreciate how evil the Kim regime and all totalitarian states are. The author was undoubtedly bold and resourceful, yet also foolish in many of the choices she made. Most had little forethought and potentially dire consequences. She was taken advantage of many times and almost ended up as a white slave. She taught herself Mandarin and English out of necessity after becoming stranded abroad. She changed her identity many times to avoid capture and repatriation, hence the book title.

The writing style is a quirky combination of elegant English (no doubt crafted by her co-writer, e.g. ghost writer, David John) and some phrasings that must have been translations of Korean phrases, like “the rain came down in lead rods.” It was at times charming and other times awkward.

Sep 20, 2019

For book club. Well written and gripping. True story. Andy read it too.

Aug 19, 2019

A true life adventure story with deep and troubling insights into North Korea. Every American should read this book.

Aug 15, 2019

Her tale is amazing! The resiliency and strength it took to escape.. for example, to learn written and spoken Chinese well enough to fool the Chinese police! So many times, I told myself, "This is it, she's caught.." but somehow, some way, she outsmarts them all. Very eye-opening to a world I cannot even fathom. Quick and easy read.

Jul 28, 2019

Bookclub: May/19

Jul 16, 2019

This book was very eye opening. I enjoyed getting to hear the first hand account of North Korea. Definitely recommend this book!

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