Hyeonseo Lee

North Korean Defector & Refugee



The Memoir of Hyeonseo Lee

THE GIRL WITH SEVEN NAMES: A North Korean Defector's Tale


An extraordinary insight into the lives of North Koreans and one woman’s struggle to escape. One of the millions of North Koreans trapped by a brutal regime, mad dictatorship and starvation of body and soul, Hyeonseo Lee fled North Korea when she was just a fifteen year-old girl.

Book title:
A North Korean Defector’s Story

As she escaped to stay with distant relatives in China, Hyeonseo still believed that North Korea was the best place in the world to live, and that Kim Il-Sung was her savior. She did not know it would be seventeen years until she was reunited with her family. She could not return, for fear that she and her family would incur the punishments of the government authorities - involving imprisonment, torture, possible public execution.

Hyeonseo instead remained in China and strove to learn Chinese and a little English in an effort to adapt and survive. Fourteen years and two lifetimes later, she would return to the border in a daring mission to spirit her mother and brother to South Korea, on one of the most arduous, expensive and dangerous journeys imaginable.

This is the unique story not only of Hyeonseo’s escape from the darkness into the light, but also of a coming of age, an education and a resolve rebuild her life not once but twice - first in China, then in South Korea. Strong, brave and eloquent, this memoir is a triumph of spirit.