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The reluctant communist : my desertion, court-martial, and forty-year imprisonment in North Korea / Charles Robert Jenkins ; with Jim Frederick.

by Charles Robert Jenkins; Jim Frederick

  Book : Biography : State or province government publication

Perhaps defecting to North Korea was a bad idea.   (2012-12-16)

Very Good

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by ebooksgirl

Even as you shake your head at the sheer idiocy of defecting to North Korea, to which Jenkins fully admits, there are moments to cheer for him as the underdog of the story.  When he's assigned to teach English classes to future spies, he purposefully gives them the wrong words, out of a combination of amusement and spite.  You can't help but cringe along with him when he's assigned a 'housekeeper' who lays down the law about how the house is going to be run.  And you cheer at the end when he gets to teach his daughters about how the rest of the world lives.

The writing's simple, and it's a very quick read.  It gives a unique and intriguing look into one of the most insular countries in the world, which would be hard to get anywhere else.

Highs:  The writing's brutally honest in its self-reflection, which keeps the story from turning into a "look how hard my life is" mess.

Lows:  Parts of the narrative could have been cleaned up better by the editor or co-writer.

Verdict:  Material you won't get anywhere else, and short enough not to be boring.

Further Reading: North Korea Kidnapped my Daughter, Escape from Camp 14

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