Masaji Ishikawa

Masaji Ishikawa tells the story of his escape from North Korea in the book, River in Darkness.

RIVER IN DARKNESS by Masaji Ishikawa (Biography/Memoir, Shinchosha 978 – 4102900352, and Amazon Crossing in the USA) is the harrowing true story of one man’s life in—and subsequent escape from—North Korea, one of the world’s most brutal totalitarian regimes.

Ishikawa candidly recounts his tumultuous upbringing and the brutal thirty-six years he spent living under a crushing totalitarian regime, as well as the challenges he faced repatriating to Japan after barely escaping North Korea with his life. A River in Darkness: One Man’s Escape from North Korea is not only a shocking portrait of life within North Korea but also a testament to the dignity—and indomitable nature—of the human spirit.

Excerpt from the Book

When we came back to our house, the villagers who’d attended her funeral were there. Eating and drinking. All the food and drink had been provided by Eiko. Food and drink like they couldn’t believe. So they were eating and drinking madly. It made me sick, so I buggered off. Hyenas and vultures, the lot of them! Animals that consume dead bodies. Nothing more. Thinking about it made me crazy. I wanted to punch them all in the face. I wanted to say to them: “When my mother was alive, you didn’t want to talk to her because she was Japanese. And now here you are, eating and drinking to her death. Why don’t you go and dance on her fucking grave, you hypocrites? God damn you all!”

I went back to my mother’s resting-place. I lit a cigarette and placed it on her grave instead of incense. And I started to sing a song. A song from long ago. A song that my mother used to sing.

About the Author

Half-Korean, half-Japanese, Masaji Ishikawa has spent his whole life feeling like a man without a country. This feeling only deepened when his family moved from Japan to North Korea when Ishikawa was just thirteen years old, where they unwittingly became members of the lowest social caste. His father, a Korean national, was lured to the newly Communist country by promises of abundant work, education for his children, and a higher position in society. But the reality of their new life was far from utopian.