Biographies & Memoirs

The Aquariums of Pyongyang: Ten Years in the North Korean Gulag

The Aquariums of Pyongyang: Ten Years in the North Korean Gulag

North Korea is today one of the last bastions of hard-line Communism. Its leaders have kept a tight grasp on their one-party regime, quashing any nascent opposition movements and sending all suspected dissidents to its brutal concentration camps for "re-education." Kang Chol-hwan is the first survivor of one of these camps to escape and tell his story to the world, documenting the extreme conditions in these gulags and providing a personal insight into life in North Korea. Part horror story, part historical document, part memoir, part political tract, this record of one man's suffering gives eyewitness proof to an ongoing sorrowful chapter of modern history.

Introduction: North Korea—the World’s Last Stalinist Regime

Chapter 1: A HAPPY CHILDHOOD IN PYONGYANG

Chapter 2: MONEY AND THE REVOLUTION CAN GET ALONG

Chapter 3: NEXT YEAR IN PYONGYANG!

Chapter 4: IN A CONCENTRATION CAMP AT THE AGE OF NINE

Chapter 5: WORK GROUP NUMBER 10

Chapter 6: THE WILD BOAR: A TEACHER ARMED AND READY TO STRIKE

Chapter 7: DEATH OF A BLACK CHAMPION

Chapter 8: CORN, ROACHES, AND SNAKE BRANDY

Chapter 9: DEATH AT YODOK

Chapter 10: THE MUCH-COVETED RABBITS

Chapter 11: MADNESS STALKS THE PRISONERS

Chapter 12: BIWEEKLY CRITICISM AND SELF-CRITICISM

Chapter 13: PUBLIC EXECUTIONS AND POSTMORTEM STONINGS

Chapter 14: LOVE AT YODOK

Chapter 15: SOJOURN IN THE MOUNTAIN

Chapter 16: TEN YEARS IN THE CAMP: THANK YOU, KIM IL-SUNG!

Chapter 17: THE NORTH KOREAN PARADISE

Chapter 18: THE CAMP THREATENS AGAIN

Chapter 19: ESCAPE TO CHINA

Chapter 20: SMALL-TIME PROSTITUTION AND BIG-TIME SMUGGLING IN DALIAN

Chapter 21: ARRIVAL IN SOUTH KOREA

Chapter 22: ADAPTING TO A CAPITALIST WORLD

Epilogue: Pursuing Aid for North Korea