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Publisher's Summary

Dear Leader contains astonishing new insights about North Korea which could only be revealed by someone working high up in the regime. It is also the gripping story of how a member of the inner circle of this enigmatic country became its most courageous, outspoken critic.

Jang Jin-sung held one of the most senior ranks in North Korea's propaganda machine, helping tighten the regime's grip over its people. Among his tasks were developing the founding myth of North Korea, posing undercover as a South Korean intellectual and writing epic poems in support of the dictator, Kim Jong-il.

Young and ambitious, his patriotic work secured him a bizarre audience with Kim Jong-il himself, thus granting him special status as one of the 'Admitted'. This meant special food provisions, a travel pass and immunity from prosecution and harm. He was privy to state secrets, including military and diplomatic policies, how the devastating 'Scrutiny' was effected, and the real position of one of the country's most powerful, elusive men, Im Tong-ok. Because he was praised by the Dear Leader himself, he had every reason to feel satisfied with his lot and safe.

Yet he could not ignore his conscience, or the disparity between his life and that of those he saw starving on the street. After breaking security rules, Jang Jin-sung, together with a close friend, was forced to flee for his life: away from lies and deceit, towards truth and freedom.

©2014 Jang Jin-Sung 2014. Translation copyright © Shirley Lee 2014. (P)2014 Random House Audiobooks

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  • Mr. Matthew M. Hull
  • 02-26-15

Amazing

I have read and listened to hundreds of books and never felt compelled to review. This is by far the best book I have ever read. I couldnt stop listening. Please read it.

5 people found this helpful

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  • bexwards
  • 01-19-16

Loved every moment.

Thoroughly recommend it to anyone with an interest in North Korea or the story of the North Korean people. Some of the sections with in depth politics / bureaucratic explanations (lots of names!) are tough in audio but always summarised clearly at the beginning and end to help you!

2 people found this helpful

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  • MOP
  • 08-10-15

Couldn't put it down!

Beautifully written, I just couldnt put it down. I hope one day North Koreans get to see the outside world.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-29-21

Mindbending

Almost certainly not what you are expecting. A cryptic work, remarkably funny given its subject matter.

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  • Toby L.
  • 04-13-21

suspenseful and gripping

incredible and eye opening story, full of suspense and nail biting moments. A true insight into the life of North Koreans.

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  • WomberlingFree
  • 11-07-20

A must read

This is simply one of the best books I’ve read. Gripping story of escape from North Korea. So good I polished off in a couple of days.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-25-20

My favourite book on Audible

This book is amazing and I am sure I will listen to it again.
It was thrilling, and emotional and the narrator was perfect.
I have listened to a number of books on North Korea and this is my favourite by far.

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  • Jerome A Lussan
  • 07-19-20

Incredible story

A wonderful tale of survival hope and freedom. When so much of what we have in the west is taken for granted this book reminds us that not everywhere has gained freedom or prosperity. The book is endearing sad but always full of hope. It has purpose.
From a historical point of view as well as being of political interest this book is fantastic even when you are not a student of North Korean affairs.

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  • cach9801
  • 09-19-19

I couldn't stop listening.

This book was purely amazing. Jang Jin-Sung tells of his horrible journey from being a North Korean government insider to defecting through China in an effort to eventually escape to Seoul.

I seriously couldn't stop listening. Every chance I got I put these on my headphones.... Time to make dinner - listen to Dear Leader. Need to hoover - listen to Dear Leader. Not many audiobooks captivate me quite like this one did. I loved listening to it.

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  • Geof Wheway
  • 12-27-17

Lifts the lid off North Korea.

Really interesting expose written by an insider.
I'm sure it would help get a better understanding if this book were widely known.




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  • zico
  • 05-19-18

Superb story of escape and survival

loved this book. Not only a great story of escape and survival but a great insight into the workings of the North Korean state and society. Very well read.

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  • Cate
  • 11-18-17

A must read

This was a great read. His story is gripping enough in itself but also his storytelling, as an accomplished poet, is excellent. He honestly helped me appreciate the relief of finding freedom - made me tremble to consider how easily we take our freedoms for granted. He also gives a clear explanation of North Korea, its history and government, from the perspective of first hand experience - a perspective that noone can understand looking from the outside, and this makes this book an invaluable work.