Abrams imprint Amulet Books has acquired the memoir of Sungju Lee, a young man who escaped North Korea as a teenager.
The True Story of How I Survived and Escaped North Korea, written by Lee with Susan Elizabeth McClelland, tells the story of Lee’s childhood in North Korea. When he was 12, Lee became homeless and had to fend for himself, surviving by creating a gang and living by thieving, fighting, begging, and stealing rides on cargo trains.
At age 17, Lee’s grandfather found him and offered him a home. He later escaped to South Korea to find his father, who had moved across the border some time before.
Howard W Reeves, editor-at-large at Amulet Books, acquired world rights to the memoir from Al Zuckerman at Writers House, and will publish in September 2016.
He said: “I cannot describe the incredible impact this true story had on me as a reader, a bystander. When I first read it I cried because the story seems so impossible, so horrific and sad. I still tear up at certain parts because as a reader you suddenly remember that this is a true story. A true story about a mere boy. The way that Sungju interweaves his story with hope amazes me. When others would have given up, he persevered.”
Lee, who is now studying at the University of Warwick in the UK, said: “My story chronicles my life as a street boy and my aim is to inspire others so that they can survive the greatest of adversities. My story is about friendship, love, and hope in terrible circumstances. Hope is never lost. No one can take it away. Only you can give it. I refuse to ever give up hope.”
The book will be distributed in the UK and Europe by Abrams & Chronicle Books.