Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Book Review: "The World is Bigger Now" by Euna Lee with Lisa Dickey And Book Giveaway

For the first time, Euna Lee—the young wife, mother, and film editor detained in North Korea—tells a harrowing, but ultimately inspiring, story of survival and faith in one of the most isolated parts of the world.

On March 17, 2009, Lee and her Current TV colleague Laura Ling were working on a documentary about the desperate lives of North Koreans fleeing their homeland for a chance at freedom when they were violently apprehended by North Korean soldiers. For nearly five months they remained detained while friends and family in the United States were given little information about their status or conditions. For Lee, detention would prove especially harrowing. Imprisoned just 112 miles from where she was born and where her parents still live in Seoul, South Korea, she was branded as a betrayer of her Korean blood by her North Korean captors. After representing herself in her trial before North Korea’s highest court, she received a sentence of twelve years of hard labor in the country’s notorious prison camps, leading her to fear she might not ever see her husband and daughter again.

The World Is Bigger Now draws us deep into Euna Lee’s life before and after this experience: what led to her arrival in North Korea, her efforts to survive the agonizing months of detainment, and how she and her fellow captive, Ling, were finally released thanks to the efforts of many individuals, including Bill Clinton. Lee explains in unforgettable detail what it was like to lose, and then miraculously regain, life as she knew it.

When I first heard about this book, I was very interested in reading it. I remember when this story came out in the news last year and I kept track of all the details of the story. I hadn't seen any of Euna Lee or Laura Ling's work prior to their capture, but I had grown up watching Laura's sister Lisa Ling on Channel One and then followed her journalism career. Plus, being an Asian American female made me really interested in their story.

Honestly, I had no idea that Lee was a Christian before reading this book. As far as I remember, it was never brought up in any of the news stories, I don't remember hearing it in any interviews or reading about it in news stories. In fact, I really don't remember much coverage on Lee and more of the focus being on Ling. Other than the shots of Lee embracing her daughter, I really don't recall much focus on her. I seem to remember more about Ling because of her relationship with her sister. Anyways, I was delighted to read her story and even more so to see how much her faith was relied on during this horrible ordeal.

Since this is a memoir and not an autobiography, the focus of the book deals with Lee's captivity in North Korea. Background information is given about her life before, such as her coming to the US, her marriage, being a mother and her career but it is not the main focal point of the story. Instead she uses all these experiences to show how it helped her get through her ordeal. I really felt as if I was along with Lee during her captivity. Everything was so vividly described with so much emotion in the words. The most emotional parts would be when Lee was able to speak with her husband and especially the first time he missed her call. How devastating that must have been on both sides.

After reading the book, it made me really think about the people in North Korea. There's nothing I can do for them, other than pray, but it just saddens me to think how many people are "trapped" there and pretty much nothing can be done. It makes me really glad that I was born where I was and how grateful I am to have lived the life I have. There were so many things we take for granted and Lee shows this as she revels in the wonder of peanut butter or reading a classic novel. A hot bath became a luxury and even clean clothes was such a relief. Reading this book was an eye opener for me and made me appreciate what I have.

Overall I really enjoyed this book. The story gave a fascinating insight into what happened during Lee's captivity as well as also a good look into Asian culture. I don't know if I could have handled the situation as well as Lee did. It was a true test of her faith and that is what got her through the situation. I haven't read Ling's account of the situation but after reading Lee's side, I'd like to read hers as well. As soon as I finished this book, I went on YouTube to see the video of Lee and Ling coming off the plane and being reunited with their families. I always felt emotional when seeing Lee hug her daughter but after reading this book I teared up. This book is a fascinating read and one that I think everyone should read.

The World is Bigger Now by Euna Lee with Lisa Dickey is published by Broadway (2010)

This ARC was provided by the publisher

I'm able to give away three copies of this book provided by the publisher. To enter, you must fill out the form and have a US or Canada address. Winners will be picked Tuesday, October 5.

PLEASE use the form only to enter the contest. For any comments about the book, review, etc. please use the comments link at the bottom of the post. All information must be filled out correctly or else your entry will not count. (ie. you must use FULL name and list your mailing address). Your info will only be used for this contest and will be deleted after the contest is over.


  1. I read Laura Ling's memoir and would be interested to hear Euna's telling of the story.

  2. I really enjoyed this book too! I read the Laura Ling one as well and the two books are very different, so if you haven't read Laura Ling's, I definitely recommend it! Hers focuses more on the political aspect and what Lisa was doing back home to try and get the girls rescued.


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