North Korea: 9 years to escape from hell

North Korea: 9 years to escape from hell

Eunsun KIM

North Korea: 9 years to esca pe from hell

In 1998, Eunsun was 12. The serious famine that had been raging for years in North Korea hadalready claimed hundreds of thousands of victims, among them Eunsun’s father and grandparents.

In the hope of finding some rice, her mother and sister went into town. But when they eventuallymade it back, Eunsun, famished and sure that she would die, had made her will, and thejoy she felt at being reunited with them was soon surpassed with despair: they were emptyhanded.

There was only one solution: go to China to escape the hunger. They had to cross a frozen river,make it past the frontier guards, survive the cold and exhaustion – it was almost impossiblebut they did it. But it was not over yet. They were first sold as slaves in China, before being sentback to North Korean jail where there were interrogated, tortured and “re-educated”… theyhad no choice but to run away again.

They went back to China where they lived in hiding, constantly hounded by the police of Pyongyang and Peking. Until the day when they could stand it no longer and set off on a new journey:crossing the Mongolian desert by foot in order to get to the promised land – South Korea.

More than 15 years later, Eunsun Kim has chosen to tell her story so that the world can learnthat there are thousands of other men and women who, every day, try to get over the frontieras she did, to escape hunger and the totalitarian hell that is North Korea.


• an unique and deeply moving testimony on the north korean hell

• the fight of a 12 years old girl: from starvation to slave in china, frompyongyang jails to an exhausting journey across the mongolian desert

• the incredible adventure across asia of a woman and her two daughters


Eunsun Kim was born in North Korea. At the ageof 12 she fled the prison-state with her mother andsister. Today, aged 25, she is a student like so manyothers, living in Seoul.

Sébastien Faletti is a journalist, and has been Le Figaro’s correspondent in Seoul for 15 years.

Publication date: february 2012

Pages: 250

Rights available: world

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