Most of us grow up believing our country is the greatest. We cheer for our teams at the Olympics, and wave our flag proudly. And like us, Hyeonseo Lee thought her country was the best on the planet. But Hyeonseo Lee’s country was North Korea.
When she was 17, during the years of the terrible North Korean famine, she crossed the Yalu River into China and began ten years of running, hiding, and trying to not be arrested and sent home by the Chinese police. She learned Chinese and changed her name, at least five or six times, and finally was able to go to South Korea.
But she never forgot her family back home and when she found out that her mother and brother were being threatened by the North Korean authorities, she decided to go back, to smuggle them out. They would travel over 2,000 miles through China to Laos, pay many bribes, and be finally helped by a total stranger. She’s written The Girl with Seven Names — a story that sounds like an amazing and scary adventure movie. Except this is Hyeonseo Lee’s true story of how she lost her country but found a world full of good people instead.