All Woman and Springtime draws its readers in to the mind control and deceptions that are daily routines in isolated, impoverished North Korea - an entire nation fooled into thinking theirs is the the most powerful, innovative, benevolent nations of the world.
So it's stunning to realize that greater indignities can be suffered in
the wealthy and democratic lands of Seoul and Seattle. Naivete and lack of education trap three young North Korean women into a horrific servitude as much as
locked doors and armed guards do. So many young people strive for individuality, and the
book is a reminder for parents and communities anywhere that extreme
control and routines fail to prepare young adults for the unexpected
crises that can emerge.
I chose this book to read because of the recommendation from Alice Walker on its cover, describing it as an important novel. I devoured it in less than two days. Walker may not know of every instance, but through her writing, she is a mentor and inspiration to many writers and teachers. Of course, Fear of Beauty is but one example, with and its themes include literacy, trafficking and abuse of power.
The tale of so much anguish is well written, and will stir
activism among its readers about the horrific crime of trafficking. Perhaps because I once lived in Seattle and walked the streets described in the University District and downtown. One can't help but feel guilt in reading the sentence from Brandon W. Jones about main protagonist Gyong-ho: "As she walked, she noticed that the well dressed never looked at the wretched. It was like two parallel worlds coinciding but never intersecting."
Fiction highlights the individual pain of cruel public policies and social problems and crimes. One cannot read such a book without taking the next step, seeking out groups that aim for reform. Yes, human trafficking is a crime that shames us all.
Particularly encouraging is a Rapid Report & Response Program from Prevent Human Trafficking, which uses cell-phone and SMS technology. "We want to make it easy for everyday citizens to join the fight against traffickers and to report and prevent human trafficking using devices with which they are totally comfortable."
But we don't need a special app. Citizens cannot look the other way and should immediately pick up phones to contact authorities.