JUST FINISHED Escape From North Korea, the untold story of Asia’s Underground Railroad, by Melanie Kirkpatrick. The author, a journalist for The Wall Street Journal, compares the escape routes used by North Koreans in and through China to the underground railroad that transported runaway slaves from the South to the North during the American Civil War period. In the process she highlights the astonishing brutality and cruelty of the North Korean political regime. The book opens with a description of life in North Korea, and it is not for the faint of heart.

Once in China the North Korean exile must elude the Chinese authorities who will return them to North Korea. If caught it  means imprisonment in a work camp, torture, starvation, death, or all of the above. For females it might mean capture by the underground sex slave trade and sale to a rural Chinese husband.

This book also tells the story of many Western individuals who have set up shop in China under the alias of doing business, but are really there to  expend their lives helping the fugitives escape to the West. If caught the “helpers,” like the fugitives, face certain imprisonment by the Chinese government or worse.

Although published by a secular publisher the author consistently draws the readers attention to the fact that almost everyone helping the fugitives are Christians. These Believers are either  native Chinese and/or their helpers from the West.

This book will convince you that the world is fallen. But it will also convince you that Christianity is the world’s hope. The gospel really changes people. They beccome citizens of another world, completely misunderstood by unbelievers around them, but alluringly attractive to those whom God is calling.

Last, Escape From North Korea will make you overflow with gratitude. Reading a work like this is tonic for the soul. No matter what problems you and I face, they are trivial compared to the issues faced by the North Korean fugitives and the Believers that help them. Books like this remind us how good life in the U.S. is and how much we take it for granted.