Link to Book

Rating: 4.5/5


Sungju Lee was a boy who escaped North Korea in his late teens. After his parents went missing when they left to search for food, he was forced to live life as a street boy. Soon, he formed a gang with some of his fellow friends from the school he attended after leaving Pyongyang. Lee and his gang stole from people on the markets, traveled from city to city to find optimal markets, were caught and escaped prison for street boys, and they fought other gangs that they encountered in their path. Throughout the process, the gang lost two of its members, one of which helped Lee survive in his early days as a street boy. One day, he encountered his grandfather at a market, and after realizing that it was indeed his grandfather, Lee decided to live with him. Afterward, a man claiming that he was one of Lee’s father’s friends came and helped Lee get on a plane that took him to South Korea. Once there, he was interrogated by officials because of his false passport, and after revealing that he was from North Korea, the officials took him to his father. As of the date of the book, Lee and his father are still looking for Lee’s mother. Lee has progressed greatly in his studies and career.


  • You don’t realize what you can accomplish when you work as a team than if you work alone
  • An authoritative regime can like you not because you are a good citizen/person, but because you take orders well
  • “Folk tale has a funny way of becoming truth” (pg: 211)
  • The worst thing that you can take away from a person is the belief in a higher power or hope itself
  • It is difficult to think about morality when you are in a survival situation and looking for food
  • Often people talk too much and don’t take the time to listen to people
    • You can learn alot from listening closely to other people’s stories
    • Voicing your opinion is not listening (pg: 214)
  • Even the most innocent and good-willed among us can become insane in the midst of intense suffering


McClelland, Susan, and Sungju Lee. Every Falling Star: The True Story of How i Survived and Escaped North Korea. HARRY N ABRAMS, 2016.