Escape from North Korea: The Untold Story of Asia’s Underground Railroad

Posted on Thursday July 19 2018

Superb reporting and storytelling about a modern-day underground railroad make Melanie Kirkpatrick’s Escape from North Korea WORLD MAGAZINE’s Book of the Year.  (Review by Marvin Olasky)

Deciding on our Book of the Year was not easy, but we’re reporters and we eventually had to acclaim a great entrepreneurial reporting accomplishment: Our No. 1 is former Wall Street Journal editor Melanie Kirkpatrick’s Escape from North Korea: The Untold Story of Asia’s Underground Railroad. Kirkpatrick tells one of the most tragic but also heroic stories of our time, documenting the ways desperate North Koreans flee their country, with many dying in the process or ending up in concentration camps. She then shows how an “underground railroad” out of North Korea helps escapees survive in China, with Christian churches and homes providing most of the “depots.”

In the interview excerpted in WORLD’s Nov. 17, 2012, issue, Kirkpatrick explained that North Korean escapees learn to “look for a
building with a cross on it.” Chinese Christians are putting their own lives in jeopardy, because “it’s against the law in China to help a North Korean—even giving somebody a meal is against the law.” Kirkpatrick spoke of “Mary” and “Jim,” a devout Korean-American couple from the Midwest. After successful careers and the graduation of their kids from college, they decided several years ago to devote the rest of their lives to helping people in China. Their church and the organization they work for, Crossing Borders, supported them, and today they run a string of orphanages in northeast China and a shelter for young women.

Escape from North Korea impressed our Books Issue committee of five WORLD journalists—Emily Belz, Janie Cheaney, Susan Olasky, Warren Smith, and myself. Emily called it a “well-written, untold story. If someone has little or no knowledge of North Korea and its history, she weaves that whole saga in so seamlessly.” Janie also praised it, “especially in light of its spooky relevance right now,” as North Korea flashes its nuclear weapons.

Warren called the book “journalism at its best, combining an important issue, meticulous reporting, and great storytelling.” He pointed out that the Christian church has played a key role in fighting totalitarianism: “Solzhenitsyn documented the heroic behavior of Baptists and other Christians in the Soviet Gulags. The Roman Catholic Church played a key role in Poland’s Solidarity movement.” Christians today are similarly risking their lives, and Kirkpatrick documents that: Escape from North Koreadescribes “what we can pray will be the last great battle in this century-long war against totalitarianism.”

Upcoming Speakers

  • Monday, October 8, 2018
    James N. Miller
    Topic: Managing US Relations with China and Russia in Unsettled - and Unsettling - Times
  • Monday, October 29, 2018
    Sarah Mendelson
    Topic: Combating Human Trafficking
  • Monday, November 12, 2018
    Gary Samore
    Topic: Status of Iran and North Korea
  • Monday, December 17, 2018
    Kyle Parker
    Topic: The Magnitsky Act and its Impact

View all speakers past and present »

Announcements

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Posted on Wednesday August 29

By Michael McFaul. “I thought I was done worrying about Vladimir Putin. I left Moscow in 2014 as the departing U.S. ambassador, after Putin spent my two-year stint deploying state-controlled media outlets and their surrogates to propagate disinformation about me. He’d been received tepidly in his campaign to retake the presidency from his ally, Dmitry Medvedev, and he needed […]

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Posted on Tuesday August 28

By Amy Knight (New York Review):   Last May, a money-laundering suit brought by the United States against Prevezon Holdings Ltd., a Cyprus-based real estate corporation, was unexpectedly settled three days before it was set to go to trial. The case had been at the center of a major international political controversy. Prevezon, which is owned by a Kremlin-connected Russian businessman […]

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Escape from North Korea: The Untold Story of Asia’s Underground Railroad

Posted on Thursday July 19

Superb reporting and storytelling about a modern-day underground railroad make Melanie Kirkpatrick’s Escape from North Korea WORLD MAGAZINE’s Book of the Year.  (Review by Marvin Olasky) Deciding on our Book of the Year was not easy, but we’re reporters and we eventually had to acclaim a great entrepreneurial reporting accomplishment: Our No. 1 is former […]

Read full announcement »

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Posted on Saturday February 3

Some years ago, at a bookshop in Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport, I noticed a shelf of paperbacks aimed at the many Christian evangelicals from the United States who visit the Holy Land. I bought one paperback, by end-times theologians Thomas Ice and J. Randall Price, titled Ready to Rebuild: The Imminent Plan to Rebuild […]

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Posted on Sunday December 31

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How Putin Checkmated The US In Syria by Anna Borshchevskaya

Posted on Saturday October 28

September 30 will mark the two year anniversary of Moscow’s intervention in Syria that saved Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from an eminent collapse. Assad is largely responsible for one of the worst humanitarian tragedies since World War II. Today, in no small part thanks to Russian President Vladimir Putin, he has emerged in the strongest […]

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Saudi Arabia wants to improve Image; Here’s How (by Juan Cole

Posted on Saturday September 16

Saudi Arabia is alleged to be hiring a PR firm to improve its tattered image in the West . As usual, such a campaign confuses substance with fluff and the money will be wasted. I am sympathetic to Saudi feelings that they get an unfair rap. In my Engaging the Muslim World I argued that […]

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“The Theology of American National Security” by Andrew Bacevich (our Jan. 2016 speaker)

Posted on Friday December 4

Reproduced from TomDispatch.com: The Theology of American National Security by Andrew Bacevich In April 2003, with Baghdad occupied by American troops, the top officials of the Bush administration were already dreaming of building bases in Iraq that would be garrisoned more or less in perpetuity. Everyone was too polite to call them “permanent bases,” so […]

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Stephen Walt on His Forum Experience

Posted on Thursday August 9

We often write about our speakers after they appear at the Forum, but Steve Walt is the first one to write about us after speaking.  Click here for his latest Foreign Policy article.

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