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Nothing to Envy is the novelized story of six North Korean refugees who were interviewed after they made it to South Korea.

I had to set it down several times because I was crying. What happened in North Korea, what continues to happen in North Korea, is terrifying and heartbreaking. This was much less like reading a tale, than being witness to great suffering. I haven't felt this way about reading something since Sharansky's Fear No Evil, and this was, if anything, stronger since the people in the tale are so ordinary.

I came out of reading this incredibly grateful that my grandparents didn't get stuck in a Communist country, and that my parents came here. The people in this tale are Korean, and national differences may loom large in Asia, but their attitudes about family, the aspirations of parents for their children, and the like, are so close to the tales my grandparents told me as a child to make no difference whatever.

It is very well written and, for me at least, profoundly moving. But I should warn about reading this - it is a story that will make you, at the least, sadder and less optimistic about human nature.

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August 2013

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