A Japanese Boy Sees a New Light: Escaping from North Korea
by Shu Shimizu
Partridge Publishing Singapore

"As I write, seventy-five years have passed since Japan lost the war against the United States."

When his private English school was shut down during the coronavirus crisis, Shimizu decided to write a memoir about his daring escape with his family from North Korea to South Korea. Having once kept a journal of his journey to Seoul, South Korea, Shimizu’s recollections of this time period have always been fresh in his mind.

Shimizu's book begins on August 15, 1945, when the young author listens to Emperor Hirohito’s radio announcement that Japan has lost the war. Nine-year-old Shu is too young to understand the ramifications of the emperor’s speech and has no idea what will become of his many siblings, his loving mother, and his strict father. In this short memoir, the author describes his courageous escape from North Korea, surviving violent Russian armies and treacherous terrain, and finally finding freedom.

Filled with both personal photos and sketches by the author and his brother, Toru, this delightful memoir offers readers a very personal look into Shimizu’s life. Imperialism and communism are described through the young narrator’s eyes, giving readers a dramatic view of how both political systems affect a young family. Chapters include descriptions of Russian soldiers stealing from Shimizu’s family, struggling with lice and illness in the rescue camps, and ultimately arriving at the 38th parallel, where they are greeted by American soldiers. Although few in pages, the author’s memoir is mighty in delivery, and his readers will surely feel a great sense of compassion for his struggle to survive. Shimizu has a profound appreciation for American democracy, and it is a keen reminder for those who live in the free world how very lucky they are to be here.

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