Hyeonseo Lee introduced by Anita Anand


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 and guide her family to freedom. As a child growing up in North Korea, Hyeonseo Lee was one of millions trapped by a brutal communist regime. Her home on the border with China gave her some exposure to the world beyond the confines of the Hermit Kingdom and, as the famine of the 1990s struck, she began to wonder, question and realise that she had been brainwashed her entire life.

Aged 17, she decided to escape North Korea. It would take 12 years before she was reunited with her family. She could not return as rumours of her escape were spreading. Lee instead remained in China and rapidly learned Chinese in an effort to adapt and survive. Twelve years and two lifetimes later, she would return to the North Korean border in a daring mission to spirit her mother and brother to South Korea on one of the most dangerous journeys imaginable. Lee tells the unique story not only of her escape from the darkness into the light but also of her coming of age, education and the resolve she found to rebuild her life. Strong, brave and eloquent, this is a story of the triumph of the human spirit.