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How I Became a North Korean

Krys Lee

The debut novel from Krys Lee, author of the much-loved story collection, Drifting House

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At the lawless border between North Korea and China, three young lives converge in the hope of a better future.

Yongju is an accomplished student from a prominent but recently disgraced family; Jangmi has had to fend for herself since childhood, and now has her unborn child to protect; Danny is a Chinese-American teenager who yearns for the China of his childhood. But danger is everywhere: government informants, thieves, people smugglers, abductors and even missionaries are a threat. As the three form an adopted family in the struggle to survive, will they reach the safety and freedom that China seems to offer?

Inspired by the author’s own experiences while working in the border area, How I Became a North Korean is a powerful story of peril and hope.

Critic Reviews

A brave and moving novel.

Yiyun Li, author of A Thousand Years of Good Prayers
Critic Reviews

Suspenseful [and] beautifully written.

Critic Reviews

Invites us into a world Westerners rarely glimpse and can barely imagine [with] moments of startling intimacy.

O, The Oprah Magazine
Critic Reviews

A novel of great sincerity and moral courage, a book that can stand as a resonant response to the challenge that fiction has no place in the white heat of political turmoil.

Alex Preston, Financial Times
Critic Reviews

I was entranced by How I Became a North Korean, and read it with increasing admiration. It’s such a penetrating work, an education, really, powered by a determination to salute the stories that have hitherto passed us by.

Sunjeev Sahota, author of The Year of the Runaways

Krys Lee is the author of the short story collection Drifting House and How I Became a North Korean. She is a recipient of the Rome Prize and the Story Prize Spotlight Award, the Honor Title in Adult Fiction Literature from the Asian/Pacific American Libraries Association, and a finalist for the BBC International Story Prize. Her fiction, journalism, and literary…

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