Pak Jun Do is the haunted son of a lost mother—a singer “stolen” to Pyongyang—and an influential father who runs a work camp for orphans. Superiors in the state soon recognize the boy’s loyalty and keen instincts. Considering himself “a humble citizen of the greatest nation in the world,” Jun Do rises in the ranks. He becomes a professional kidnapper who must navigate the shifting rules, arbitrary violence, and baffling demands of his Korean overlords in order to stay alive. Driven to the absolute limit of what any human being could endure, he boldly takes on the treacherous role of rival to Kim Jong Il in an attempt to save the woman he loves, Sun Moon, a legendary actress “so pure, she didn’t know what starving people looked like.”
In this epic, critically acclaimed tour de force, Adam Johnson provides a riveting portrait of a world rife with hunger, corruption, and casual cruelty but also camaraderie, stolen moments of beauty, and love. – Publishers Website
At first, I got this book mixed up with another book, so initially I had said no; then as I was going through some other things I decided to click the link for it and realized my mistake. Once I was finished reading the description, I said yes to reading this particular book.
It did sound intriguing at first, but once I opened it up to actually read it, I was astounded, shocked, and scared for the people of North Korea. To be subjected to unspeakable acts of abuse by their government was one thing, having a fictionalized account was another. Where most of the things were most likely accurate and not unheard of. But then there is this main character Pak Jun Do who first lives in an orphanage where his father is the orphan master, then onto a labor camp, who then you see working in varying different jobs, until he is in one of the most coveted jobs – as taking over one of the more prominent people in North Korea. Through his wild rides through the bureaucracy, to the United States, and back again, he serves as the novels hero in some respect – trying to be invisible but yet in his final position to free a woman and her children from the ravages of the living conditions, the propaganda, and harshest living conditions to be free.
It had taken me a bit of time to fully read this novel. At first, I thought it was a unusual story, but as you delve further into it, it’s the story of probably many of the people of this communist country – less the assumptions of different characters of course. I have read somewhere that the author had taken one trip to North Korea to research this novel, and i cannot believe that he captured it so effortlessly. My impression is that of shock that people are still made to live like this in the world now. (Here I go wearing my heart on my sleeve again…) If you are interested in at least a fictionalized account of North Korea, the people and other things, then this is the book for you. I felt as if I was inside the country ducking to hide wherever I could so I wouldn’t be captured much like some of the characters in the book.
Thanks to the women at TLC Book Tours for including me in this tour ! Here are the other blogs where you can find this book and other thoughts:
Tuesday, August 7th: Booklover’s Book Reviews
Wednesday, August 8th: The Bowed Bookshelf
Thursday, August 9th: Unabridged Chick
Monday, August 13th: As I Turn the Pages
Tuesday, August 14th: Gone Bookserk
Monday, August 20th: Life in Review
Tuesday, August 21st: Unabridged Chick – author interview
Wednesday, August 22nd: Lit and Life
Thursday, August 23rd: Bookish Habits
Monday, August 27th: The Scarlett Letter
Tuesday, August 28th: Book Dilettante
Tuesday, September 4th: Serendipitous Reading
Monday, September 10th: Peeking Between the Pages
Tuesday, September 18th: You’ve GOTTA read this!
TBD: Col Reads
TBD: So Simply Sara