Kang Chol-Hwan was one of the first people to escape from North Korea after being incarnated in a North Koren gulag and to tell his story. He was a trailblazer in a sense, and a brave man for taking the lead. The story is pretty harsh, from a reasonably wealthy Japanese/Korean family environment to a mud hut at Yodok, it is terrible to read and to experience with him. However, as Kang all but confesses himself he got off lightly. Other families were sent to the hard labour camps never to return, some were executed, and so many more were just stuck with nowhere to go, without the resources from 'Japanese relatives' which he enjoyed. Since Kang made it to the South, the North has gone though a further economic meltdown many people, no-one really know how many, have died. I don't begrudge Kang his freedom, or his luck, but having read other accounts (in particular the harrowing Nothing to Envy) this account seems almost superficial. I guess that just shows how bad it has got in North Korea these days that an account of ten years in a labour camp doesn't seem to quite capture the horrors and the terror of that regime.