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"Nothing to Envy - real lives in North Korea" by Barbara Demick.

I read this book hungry for information about North Korea. We have some South Korean friends, and know that Christians are some of the most significant players in helping people defect from North to South. We have also heard incredible tales of defectors coming to Christian faith  after their escape, and then heading back into North Korea despite the terrible dangers, desperate to share the gospel with others in this hopeless land.

I was not disappointed with this book. Not written by a Christian believer, but an American journalist, it records some aspects of the "Christian story" of defectors, quite well I think. It is deeply moving. In an age where we take our freedoms for granted, this book reminds us to be grateful for them! In North Korea at the moment is a generation of long-term malnourished and seriously indoctrinated people who, even if they manage to escape, will be unlikely to find life "on the outside" easy or comfortable.

"Dr. Kim (newly arrived in China) pushed open the gate and peered inside. On the ground she saw a small metal bowl with food. She looked closer- it was rice, white rice, mixed with small scraps of meat. Dr. Kim couldn't remember the last time she'd seen a bowl of pure white rice. What was a bowl of rice doing there, just sitting on the ground? She figured it out just before she heard the dog's bark.

Up until that moment, a part of her had hoped that China would be just as poor as North Korea. She still wanted to believe that her country was the the best place in the world. The beliefs she had cherished for a lifetime would be vindicated. But now she couldn't deny what was staring her plainly in the face: dogs in China ate better than doctors in North Korea. "

It gave me a new-founded respect for the leaders of our country, even if they fall short in many ways. We are very, very lucky to be able to get on with our lives, spread the good news about Jesus to those we know, and grow in our faith as individuals and as a church without fear of reprisal from the state.

"I urge, then, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone - for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness." (1 Timothy 2v1)