The Aquariums of Pyongyang

The Aquariums of Pyongyang

Ten Years in A North Korean Gulag

eBook - 2001
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A magnificent, harrowing testimony to the voiceless victims of North Korea.

Kang Chol-Hwan is the first survivor of a North Korean concentration camp to escape the 'hermit kingdom' and tell his story to the world. This memoir reveals the human suffering in his camp, with its forced labour, frequent public executions and near-starvation rations. Kang eventually escaped to South Korea via China to give testimony to the hardships and atrocities that constitute the lives of the thousands of people still detained in the gulags today. Part horror story, part historical document, part memoir, part political tract, this story of one young man's personal suffering finally gives eye-witness proof to this neglected chapter of modern history.

Publisher: New York : Basic Books, c2001.
ISBN: 9780857895387
Characteristics: 1 online resource
Additional Contributors: Rigoulot, Pierre
OverDrive, Inc


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Sep 27, 2017

Kang Chol-Hwan's family was prosperous and respected in Japan. But they were staunch believers in communism and chose to move to North Korea with the promise that they would be an important asset to the cause. They soon feel prey to the unpredictability and brutality of the reigning government. His grandfather disappeared and it was later found that he had been arrested on charges of being an enemy of the state. As they do, they arrested the rest of the family as well, including nine-year-old Kang.

This book tells of his life in the prison camp where he and his family grew up. It is similar in bleakness and depravity to Camp 14 and other books by and about people who have escaped from North Korea. He did escape, though he had to leave the rest of this family behind. Told in a very straightforward style.

Apr 11, 2012

This is a truly amazing memoir. Definitely worth the read because the insight provided is incredible.


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Sep 16, 2017

The author was examining his feelings upon being told that he and his family were to be released from the prison called Yodok after 10 years, since he was a young boy. He felt joy, but also fear and moroseness. "Deep down, I had come to love them (the mountain ridges that surround the prison). They had been the bars of my prison and the framework of my life. They were my suffering and my being, bound indissolubly together."

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