Book review: A River in Darkness

24 Apr 2019 / 11:51 H.


THIS is the English translation of author Masaji Ishikawa’s harrowing autobiography, detailing his escape from North Korea in 1996.

Ishikawa – who is also known by his Korean name, Do Chan-Sun – is a half-Korean, half-Japanese escapee from North Korea who experienced a lot of hardships throughout his life.

The translators of his autobiography, Risa Kobayashi and Martin Brown, were able to properly relate his emotions and his experiences.

The book, originally published in 2000, traces Ishikawa’s early years as a young boy growing up in an abusive household in Japan.

It goes on to relate the 36 years he spent under the dictatorial realm of North Korea where he had a wife and children, and finally comes full circle to his life back in Japan as a lonely escapee.

The tale is written in a straightforward manner, and readers will be guided through his depressing past as a member of the lowest caste in North Korean society.

I recommend this book to all those who are interested in reading survival stories, but be warned – the book is full of sadness and despair.

Reading this book made me grateful to be a Malaysian living in this country.

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