Monthly Archives: September 2009

Book Review: The Aquariums of Pyongyang

The Aquariums of Pyongyang, by Kang Chol-Hwan and Pierre Rigoulot, is an account of the imprisonment of Kang Chol-Hwan and his family in the Yodok concentration camp in North Korea.

It begins with an introduction by co-author Pierre Rigoulot describing Kang’s new life in the Republic of Korea, then continues with a brief history of both North and South Korea since the Korean War in 1953.

It shows how a powerful family with money and material goods has everything taken from them by the Workers’ Party of Korea. Kang’s family, while of Korean ethnicity, originally lived in Japan before emigrating to the DPRK at the behest of his communist Grandmother. When Kang was nine years old, his grandfather was imprisoned for suspected activity against the State. As the policy at the time was to incarcerate the immediate family of political prisoners, Kang Chol-Hwan, his grandmother, father, uncle and younger sister Miho were all imprisoned at the Yodok concentration camp. There they suffered and viewed many atrocities over a period of ten years including disease, starvation, torturous punishments and at least one public execution.

Following his family’s release (presumably upon the death of his Grandfather, the original offender against the State) Kang worked in assigned occupations before becoming at risk of again being sent to a concentration camp. The end of the book details his subsequent escape to China and attempts to seek asylum before escaping to South Korea.

If you have heart for those who currently live outside the reach of the Gospel this book will reap your heart out! There are over 23,000, 000 people shackled to a country that keeps away from the truth.