Title: The World is Bigger Now
Author: Euna Lee
Publisher: Broadway/Crown Trade (Random House)
Release Date: September 28, 2010
A few months ago I reviewed Somewhere Inside by Laura Ling and Lisa Ling about Laura's captivity in North Korea for five months. Euna Lee was the film editor also on that trip who was captured as well. I won't recap the whole story or the tid bits I included about North Korea, but it's really interesting so please refer to the linked review above and go read that first!
But back to this review, I definitely think The World is Bigger Now is absolutely worth reading even if you've already read the memoir by Laura Ling; in fact, I pretty much believe that if you're going to read one you should read them both, as they complement each other and are riveting memoirs in their own rights.
Euna Lee had experiences during her captivity in North Korea that were similar to Laura Ling's but ironically were also vastly different. Somewhere Inside focused largely on the political aspect of the events and the measures that were taken by Lisa Ling and the government of the United States in order to contribute to the release of the women. Euna Lee was in the shadows for a large part of these political movements since Laura's involvement was due to her sister. In Euna's memoir, then, the focus was much more on her emotional and psychological reactions to her confinement. Her reactions were genuine -- on the verge of a mental breakdown on many occasions and alternating days of depression with days of hopefulness, I agonized along with her while reading about her experience. Stories like this really illustrate for me the strength of the human spirit because I cannot imagine going through a fraction of what she did. And though she didn't go into it too much, the effect this had on her 4-year-old daughter gave me more to think about as well.
The writing style of both books was different, too, which very likely exemplifies the different women they each are. Euna Lee also was treated somewhat more harshly throughout the ordeal because as a native Korean (despite being from South Korea, not north) she was considered a betrayer to people of her own blood. She spoke, throughout the book, about her conflicting feelings of hatred for the country she was in but the simultaneous reminders of her childhood. North Korea is so stuck in time without the progression of the rest of the world that in many ways the country reminded her of growing up in South Korea.
Euna Lee is also a devout Christian and talked about this in some parts. This section was mild enough that non-Christians won't at all be put off. But for those who are Christians, I believe this aspect of the book will be very inspiring. Euna vacillated between having absolute faith and feeling completely abandoned by God which I feel is an aspect some readers will definitely be able to relate to even without having been in her situation.
There was no lack of tears from me while reading this book, that's for sure! It was definitely an emotional read in some aspects. I'm glad I was able to read about this experience from her perspective as well.
Interesting side note... I went back and read my review for Somewhere Inside to compare to this one and noticed I used the words/phrases "riveting" and "human spirit" when writing both reviews, lol. But they're both relevant!
Click here to see the "trailer" for this book.