Wednesday, October 5, 2005

Kang Chol-hwan, author of "Aquariums of Pyongyang," to speak at Seoul Club this Sunday, October 9

Democrats Abroad Korea (DAK) and Republicans Abroad Korea (RAK) are working on non-partisan areas where their concerns as American citizens living in Korea might overlap. Toward that end, on Sunday evening, October 9, the two groups are hosting a reception and presentation with Mr. Kang Chol-hwan, the author of "The Aquariums of Pyongyang: Ten Years in the North Korean Gulag."

"The Aquariums of Pyongyang is one of the most terrifying memoirs I have ever read. As the first such account to emerge from North Korea, it is destined to become a classic." -- Iris Chang, author of "The Rape of Nanking"

WHO: this is open to anyone interested in attending. Feel free to forward this to anyone who might be interested.

WHAT: presentation, talk, and Q&A with Mr. Kang

WHERE: Seoul Club (a map can be found
Dongguk University Station (line #3) is closest, and then it's about a ten- or fifteen-minute walk in the direction of Namsan.

WHEN: Sunday, October 9,
Reception at 6:00 p.m.
Presentation at 7:00 p.m.

COST: 36,000 won (food will be served)

To reserve a spot, email Gene Gerth (of DAK). Gene can collect your money later or you
can pay on-line. The sooner the better.

On-line payment can be made directly to: John Y. Lee (of RAK)
Korea Foreign Exchange Bank account #221-18-18476-2
After paying on-line, email a copy of your deposit slip to event coordinator Andy Jackson (of RAK) at or fax it during business hours at 031-400-7020, in order to confirm your payment.

Do NOT contact Seoul Club directly!

Mr. Kang made international headlines when President George W. Bush praised his book and held a private, 40-minute meeting with him to discuss the horrific human rights situation in North Korea. Regardless of where one stands on Bush's political policies toward North Korea, concern about the immense suffering at the hands of the Pyongyang regime is something that Democrats and Republicans alike both share, and it's certainly something that has the president's attention.

Kang was raised in relative privilege in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang. Then in 1977, at the age of nine, he was imprisoned with his entire family in the Yodok prison camp after his grandfather was purged by the Kim Il-sung regime. He and his family endured beatings, malnutrition and other mistreatment for ten years before finally being released.

After escaping North Korea Kang co-authored The Aquariums of Pyongyang, a memoir of his experiences before, during and immediately after his imprisonment.

Kang is the first survivor of a North Korean concentration camp to escape the "hermit kingdom" and tell his story to the world. In his book, Kang revealed the human suffering in his camp, with its forced labor, frequent public executions and near-starvation rations that Kang supplemented with rats and bugs. He eventually escaped to South Korea via China to give testimony to the hardships and atrocities that constitute the lives of up to two hundred thousand people said to be still detained in the gulags today. Part horror story, part historical document, part memoir, part political tract, and this story of one young man's personal suffering finally gives eyewitness proof to a neglected and ongoing chapter of modern history.

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