Sunday, November 15, 2009

Eyes of the Tailless Animals by Soon Ok Lee

This is probably one of the most gruesome books I've ever read. All the more so because it is true.
Soon Ok Lee was a dedicated member of the Communist Party in North Korea. She lived well, had status, and a loving family. All that changed when she refused to give a fellow worker more than the legal limit of a shirt fabric that she had brought back from China.

Because of her adherence to the law she was taken suddenly from her home and family and thrown into prison. Inside prison, she was subjected to tortures so horrible that I believe the only reason she survived was so she could tell people outside North Korea of the horrors that are going on there.

It seems that basically, North Korea provides goods for outside nations by ensuring a large prison class who work for free. They are also mostly worked to death. They are given hardly anything to eat and only allowed to sleep a couple of hours a day in order to make the required quotas. Many people who were in prison are there because they tried to work to feed their starving children but it was work that they had not been given permission to do.

The North Korean government controls every one of their citizens' lives so stringently that no one may leave their town without permission, or do any kind of work that they do not have explicit permission to do.
If someone is thrown in prison their family loses all status as well. They lose their homes, jobs, everything.
Lee noticed that as cruelly as the prisoners are treated, there is one group that's treated even worse, if that's possible. These are the Christians. Because they believe in heaven they are never allowed to look at the sky but must go about always looking at the ground. If they, or any of the prisoners for that matter, break one iota of the rules they are tortured so viley that they often do not survive.

This book is an account of one North Korean's journey from wholly believing in the ideals of the Communist Party and North Korea's then dictator, Kim Il Song, to realizing the brutal oppression of North Korea's citizens. It is also an account of her spiritual journey from atheism and belief in the state as God to accepting Jesus Christ as her savior.

At the end of the book, she describes her final exit from the prison to liberty.

As she leaves the prison she looks back and suddenly, at the same time, the Christian prisoners who are never allowed to look up, all raised their eyes to meet hers. In them she saw a pleading to expose what is going on in North Korea. In her forward, Lee explains that this is ultimately her motive for writing the book.
Some things the rest of us need to consider: Why are countries like Japan and France trading with North Korea? Lee mentions these countries because of the cost of life it took to meet the demands for products by these two countries.

Also, if something doesn't happen to stop this dreadful regime, will there be any North Koreans alive in fifty years? Will North Korea be the first country to completely annihilate its own people?


ma P said...

ouch. this one hurt to read..but what audacity to even think that after what these people are going through.
I wonder if a book like this will get to be widely read.
evil is alive and well in North Korea..and around the globe.
How did she become a Christian? God is there.
recently ( Nov 14) there was a special prayer time for the persecuted Christians around the world. one of my BSF friends participated. Today, two christian women in an Iranian prison since March, were released. no bail. just let go. their health isn't too good at the moment, but they are free. they were in jail because of their faith. wow. prayer in the name of Jesus and through the power of the Holy Spirit is effective.

Sharon Wilfong said...

It reminds me of all I have to be grateful for and also what we could lose if Americans to not turn to the Lord and call on His name.
It makes me ponder it God would ever require such sacrifice from me.

Sharon Wilfong said...

I forgot to mention that she writes in her book the real hunger for Christ there. After she was released Lee went to a farm where some college students were working as laborers during their break. She noticed they were secretly passing a note to each other to read. She asked them what they were reading and when they showed it to her she saw that it was scripture.
Can you imagine being so hungry for the Word of God that you devour any scrap of it?
It makes me feel guilty to consider how many Bibles I own.

Anonymous said...

I recently read "On China" by Henry Kissinger ( and "Berlin 1961" by ( - both books it is said that the leaders of China as well as Khrushchev did not view the North Korean style of communism as their own.

Sharon Wilfong said...

I read your reviews on those two books and I plan on reading them.
Needless to say, North Korea is being strangulated by a mad man.

Unknown said...

I was hopping through and am now a follower!
Amazing reviews !
this makes my answer rather .ummm....whimsical!

Sharon Wilfong said...

@Brenda Thanks!