The Girl with Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee

The Girl with Seven Names

An extraordinary insight into life under one of the world’s most ruthless and secretive dictatorships – and the story of one woman’s terrifying struggle to avoid capture/repatriation and guide her family to freedom.As a child growing up in North Korea, Hyeonseo Lee was one of millions trapped by a secretive and brutal totalitarian regime. Her home on the border with China gave her some exposure to the world beyond the confines of the Hermit...

Details The Girl with Seven Names

TitleThe Girl with Seven Names
Release DateJul 2nd, 2015
PublisherWilliam Collins
GenreNonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir, Biography

Reviews The Girl with Seven Names

  • Sungeun Jin
    Full Disclosure: I am a South Korean and I have encountered with a number of readings, TED-talks, Youtube videos on life in North Korea, testimonies of North Korean defectors on horrific lives in our neighbor country. However, I found this book intriguing, unique and inspiring. What Hyeonseo offers in this book is quite different from other N.Korean defector's story. She's from a family with high class, had a relatively comfortable life to North ...
  • abby
    By the time she turned 29, Hyeonseo Lee had spent a decade living on the run and in hiding. She had escaped a brothel, survived a kidnapping, run away from a loveless engagement, and changed her name four times. She was attacked on the street, robbed, conned, and arrested more than once.She is one of the lucky ones.Hyeonseo Lee was born in North Korea under a different name, to a family with good songbun (NK's caste system). But even being one of...
  • Dem
    What an interesting story and its so hard to believe that in this day and age that a whole nation of 25.5 Million people could be so cut off from the rest of the world and its leader could controll and dictate everything about peoples lives from birth to death.I had read a couple of books on North Korea over the years and came across The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story and another book which I felt were both worth reading...
  • Camie
    If you're like me and haven't read much about past and present living conditions in Northern Korea , you'll learn a lot here.This simply written book follows the courageous journey of a 17 year old girl who will need to change her name seven times after she defects from North Korea and reinvents her life both in China and later South Korea. Written to read like a novel, it will certainly give you a greater appreciation of the freedoms we often ta...
  • Julia Graf
    I did enjoy this but I also feel like she made a lot of really incredibly dumb choices that really made no sense. For example she stayed with relatives in China for 2 whole years (!!!) and didn't think of maybe using that time to get a job to save money, or to learn a vocation? Then she runs away penniless on the spur of the moment and has no plan of what to do. You had 2 years to think about it and relied on the kindness of distant relatives to ...
  • Trish
    I listened to this remarkable story, read by Josie Dunn and published by HarperCollins Publishers UK, with a degree of disbelief. Certain parts of the story agree with what I’d learned already about the lives of North Koreans, the general trend of their escapes, and their orientation in South Korea as refugees. The author was young, seventeen, when she decided to cross the frozen Yalu in winter and go see her relatives in Shenyang, China. She...
  • Short Reviews
    This was definitely the best autobiography I've read to date. Hyeonseo is a brave exceptional woman who has been through hell and back. The loyalty and love she has for her family was so lovely to read. I can't even form a proper review- no review will describe how much I loved reading this book!
  • Sharon Metcalf
    The Girl with Seven Names: Escape From North Korea by Hyeonseo Lee is what reading is all about for me. Learning something of the world, of the lives of others and gaining an appreciation for just how fortunate I am to have been born in this time and place with the freedoms and luxuries often taken for granted. Hyonseo Lee's memoir tells of the complete ideological indoctrination of the North Korean people. She detailed the way the brainwashing b...
  • Apratim Mukherjee
    This is the first time I read a North Korean defector's story.I had read about the oppressive regime but the book is an eye opener of all sorts.Though written like a thriller novel,the book tells a lot of suffering that the North Koreans go through in their perilous journey during their defection.The treatment of these defectors in China is a matter of concern for the international community.The book deserves 4 stars ...1 deduction for too much p...
  • Nancy
    4.5 stars. One of the better books I've read on North Korean defection. Kudos to the co-author who brilliantly translated Lee's emotional journey into a page-turner. The third part was my favorite because it involved her family's long and arduous journey to join her in South Korea. I wasn't surprised that both her mother and brother longed to return to the North because adapting to life in Seoul presented a tremendous and negative cultural shock....
  • Jeannette Nikolova
    Also available on the WondrousBooks blog. Country: North KoreaThis is the second book that I have read, which tells the stories of North Korean defectors, the first being Nothing to Envy. I debated with myself whether I need another book for my book world trip, but what set my mind was the idea, that while Nothing to Envy is a story told through a "middle man", The Girl with Seven Names is an autobiography. Ultimately, now I can say that the dif...
  • Alissa Patrick
    Being an American, I knew a little about the hardships in North Korea, as well as how crazy Kim Jong-Il was (& now Kim Jong-Un). But reading this memoir of a North Korean defector's account just floored me. It definitely opened my eyes
  • Andrew
    North Korea memoirs are always difficult. The stories of escape aren't yet so common as to be mundane (though perhaps we should hope for the day they are) but they're difficult to put into great prose.Hyeonseo Lee tells of a remarkable upbringing in that reclusive country, although in her border town people seem to cross into China and back with surprising ease. Her escape story and life in China testifies to her grit and intelligence. And the st...
  • David Webber
    Excellent and much different than Escape from Camp 14 and other books which involved life in the prison camps. The author lived what many would have considered a fairly normal life in a North Korea border town with China. This story gives a picture of average life in North Korea, life for defectors in China, and life struggling with their new identity. Her family adds much drama to the story as well. A very good read to get a different perspectiv...
  • L.A. Starks
    An exceptionally illuminating book into life inside North Korea, and the risks in escaping it, from a brave and talented young woman
  • Negin
    This is the third book that I’ve read about North Korea. My favorite is still Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick, and one that I highly recommend. “The Girl with Seven Names” is a close second. I could barely put this book down. It’s beautifully written, so moving, the type of book that you can’t stop thinking about. Notice the framed pictures of the leaders inside this North Korean home. When couples get married, they’re given framed ...
  • Diane
    What a fascinating look inside a place so shrouded in secrecy. I've watched a couple of documentaries about North Korea on Netflix, and was shocked by the extent of indoctrination and how isolated the North Korean people are from knowledge of the world beyond their borders. This is the story of a young girl who had it pretty good in North Korea, comparatively speaking [the ludicrousness of that statement is illustrated by the fate of her father],...
  • Lauren
    Hyeonseo Lee grew up carefully cleaning picture frames for weekly inspections by government officials in white linen gloves. In her classroom and at her mother’s job, weekly meetings were conducted in which everyone in attendance had to confess their guilt about something and accuse others of the same. The leaders of her country were made heroes in fairy tales told by her kindergarten teachers. Those who did not cry enough when Kim Il-Sung died...
  • Denise
    The Girl with Seven Names is a powerful, fascinating true story about a young girl who manages to escape from North Korea. She gives a very honest view of living in North Korea and her escape and later helping her mother and brother escape. I found myself feeling all the pain, the struggles and the fear that Hyeonsea felt. It also reveals the difficulties, for young and old to assimilate into a new culture. This is an intriguing account of an ama...
  • Stephanie
    It was the story about woman who leave her country to satisfy her curiosity of the world. She can't go back because her country has a strict regulation that the people who leave will get a punishment when they go back. So she must take her own path in a new world live as an illegal settler and hide her identity as a North Korea citizen. She had go through a lot hardship in her way to get the freedom and had to change her names for a several times...
  • Caitlin Gutilla
    This is the most informative, interesting, and mind boggling memoir I've ever read. North Korea is a mysterious country that blocks out all foreign powers to strengthen its own dictatorship. This story gives insight into North Koreans' every day lives and the grueling process of escaping the hunger, the brutality, and the control. I'm actually appalled at how the surrounding Asian countries treated the defectors seeking asylum from a known dictat...
  • Aida
    In my years of working in a large, inner city school system, I've encountered several families that have migrated to the US from different parts of the world. While many of the stories heard were centered on experiences of migrating from Central, South and Latin America, I still had a certain knowledge base of the political structure in those countries. The central theme was due to poverty and wanting of a better life. Ms. Lee's story of a North ...
  • Carol
    This book reads like fiction - it grabs you immediately and doesn't let go. If you want to remember how wonderful it is to live in our free America, just read this. You will say thank you every page that you are here and not there! This young girl is so very, very brave - I found myself cheering her on as though she were my own flesh and blood. This is the second book I have read about escaping from this abysmal country (North Korea) -- everyone ...
  • Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
    It’s been awhile since I have been this riveted by a book. And this isn’t even a novel, but a memoir! But then, a jaded reader like me can often sense where the plot of a novel will go, but in real life, anything can happen.Hyeonseo Lee was born in North Korea, and the first third of this book traces her parents’ love story and her childhood in the world’s most isolated country. It is not the misery memoir you might expect on reading “N...
  • Yblees
    Totally compulsive book. This reads like an adventure thriller, and has got to be the MOST enjoyable "out of North Korea" I've ever read. The big difference to other "escapee" stories is that the author had a relatively comfortable, protected life, with a loving and supportive family. She left North Korea unbrutalised by famine, torture or deep personal tragedy. In fact, (view spoiler)[she didn't so much escape, as wander out thinking to have a "...
  • Cassandra
    The story of Hyeonseo and her family's escape from North Korea is fascinating and moving. The style itself is very matter-of-fact, and the writing isn't emotional. It doesn't have to be. The stories she tells are powerful enough on its own. Just when you think that Hyeonseo catches a break, something else terrible happens. But what really sets this book apart for me is the nuance - the fact that life is as difficult for a North Korean defector in...
  • Helen Yee
    Wow. Such an incredible book that I literally could not put down. I churned through this in practically one sitting, unable to stop at the end of each chapter. It's written so well - compelling without sensationalism or verbosity. The insight in the North Korean indoctrination of party loyalty above everything was fascinating. As Lee points out, it's impossible for North Koreans to grasp their lack of rights and freedom when they've never underst...
  • Priya
    Eye opener on the state of affairs in North Korea! It's amazing how the country is being ruled by the Kim family, with absolute control, even in this day and age. Gives a whole new perspective on human rights and freedom of speech...even just freedom!
  • enqi ☁️✨ [joon's]
    This autobiography by Hyeonseo Lee was wild and moving and heartbreaking and my entire worldview has been altered in the course of a few hours.RTC.