Book Review: Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson

This striking fictional book by Adam Johnson attempts to capture the feel of North Korea in a tale that spans from the mountains to the sea.
 
The titular Orphan Master's Son is Pak Jun Do, a man who rises through the ranks of a kidnapping wing of the North Korean state before coming into conflict with a Commander in the military and the Dictator Kim Jong Il himself.
 
With prose that is both dreamy and magnetic, Johnson deftly weaves a thrilling tale. It is easy to read (or listen as I did) and get lost in the world and murky morality Pak inhabits. It is surprising and a credit to the author, but I found myself rooting for Pak even though he committed many terrible acts throughout the book. His movement within and throughout the regime's brutality somehow softened the horrible things he did.
 
When I listened to the Orphan Master's Son I was particularly interested in the ordinary lives it touched upon and led me to another title, this one Non-Fiction "Nothing to Envy, Ordinary Lives in North Korea". This book touched upon times similar as in the fictional story and helped add depth and background to my understanding of Pak and the society that he inhabits.
 
As North Korea periodically makes news here, you might be interested in learning more about this land, and these two books would be a great place to start.
 
Both of these books Highly recommended!

The Orphan Master's Son

Nothing to Envy

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