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?