The Girl with Seven Names - Hyeonseo Lee

The Girl with Seven Names

By Hyeonseo Lee

  • Release Date: 2015-07-02
  • Genre: Biographies & Memoirs
4.5 Score: 4.5 (From 1,177 Ratings)



An extraordinary insight into life under one of the world’s most ruthless and secretive dictatorships – and the story of one woman’s terrifying struggle to avoid capture/repatriation and guide her family to freedom.

As a child growing up in North Korea, Hyeonseo Lee was one of millions trapped by a secretive and brutal communist regime. Her home on the border with China gave her some exposure to the world beyond the confines of the Hermit Kingdom and, as the famine of the 1990s struck, she began to wonder, question and to realise that she had been brainwashed her entire life. Given the repression, poverty and starvation she witnessed surely her country could not be, as she had been told “the best on the planet”?

Aged seventeen, she decided to escape North Korea. She could not have imagined that it would be twelve years before she was reunited with her family.


‘The most riveting TED talk ever’ Oprah

‘Harrowing’ Wired

‘A sad and beautiful story of a girl who could not even keep her name, yet overcame all with the identity of what it is to be human’ Jang Jin-sung, author of ‘Dear Leader’

‘Stirring and brave … true, committed, unvarnished and honest. Lee has made her own life the keyhole to the present, inside and outside of North Korea’ Scotsman

‘Remarkable bravery fluently recounted’ Kirkus

About the author

Hyeonseo Lee grew up in North Korea but escaped to China in 1997. In 2008, after more than 10 years there, she came to Seoul, South Korea, where she struggled to adjust to life in the bustling city. Recently graduated from Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, she has become a regular speaker on the international stage fostering human rights and awareness of the plight of North Koreans. She is an advocate for fellow refugees, even helping close relatives leave North Korea. Her TED talk has been viewed nearly 4m times. She is married to her American husband Brian Gleason and currently lives in South Korea.


  • The girl with seven names

    By Beryl67
    Fascinating look into a country hidden away from the rest of the world and its personal consequences.
  • The With Seven Names

    By Readingbythesea
    She had to do what she felt she needed to do to survive. The story was written to show her challenges but it lacked something. I guess it’s hard to believe she gets herself on the edge but manages to get out of it every time!
  • Wow

    By Assassin007
    This is such an important book. What an amazing story
  • Worth the read

    By lucaslee1123
    Amazing book! Such a powerful story
  • Heartbreaking and Encouraging

    By Tuclog23
    I try not to live in a bubble, but I must admit that I learned so much from this book. I know that there are evils in the world, but it completely humbles me when I read people’s survival stories. This book is eye opening, heart breaking, and encouraging. It showed me the horrible side of humanity, but it also showed me the good in it. We must be the good. We must stand up for fellow humans. We must not let evil win.
  • Truly riveting

    By Good 5.1
    The story was so compelling and it reflected such on human nature. Read the book and taken into another world vividly.
  • Mind opening!

    By Clementine1001
    I highly suggest this book
  • The girl with seven names.

    By Nancy Virginia
    Interesting content but, I felt the writing was only mediocre.
  • The Girl with Seven Names

    By jmaleki5
    Fantastic book! I was on the edge the whole time, praying everything work out for the author! LOVED the book!
  • Excellent read

    By ajain22
    This book provided me a rare glimpse into such a closed country like North Korea. The struggle the author went through reminded me of how privileged some of us are to enjoy the freedom and the choice to make our own destiny.