Author Event with Seh-Lynn Chai - "The Hard Road Out"

The Gunn Memorial Library and The Hickory Stick Bookshop will co-sponsor an Author Talk at The Judy Black Memorial Park and Garden on Saturday, June 3 at 3 pm with Seh-Lynn Chai, co-author of “The Hard Road Out: One Woman’s Escape from North Korea”.


"The Hard Road Out" details the survival story of Jihyun Park, who by the age of 29 had witnessed more unspeakable horrors than anyone should.  Family members had died of starvation; her brother was beaten nearly to death by soldiers.  Even smiling and laughing was discouraged.  The first time she ran, she was forced to abandon her father on his deathbed, crossing the border under a hail of bullets.  In China she was sold to a farmer, with whom she had a son, before being denounced and forcibly returned to North Korea. 

Thirty-five years of Japanese colonization (1910 – 1945) and subsequent 70 years of division post Korean war (1950-1953) shaped a divided Korea and created a culture of distrust and hatred.  Yet Chai’s 2014 encounter with Park challenged those notions and opened many windows of Chai’s life that had remained closed for too long.

Clear-eyed and resolute, Jihyun’s extraordinary story reveals a Korea far removed from the talk of nuclear weapons and economic sanctions.  She remains sanguine despite the hardship.  Recalling life’s tiny pleasures even at her darkest moments, she manages to instill her tale with incredible grace and humanity.

Seh-lynn Chai is sharing her story of meeting Park and the process of writing this book to give us an opportunity to reflect on the place of the past in the present and to ask ourselves what can bring people together.


Jihyun Park was born in Chongjin, North Korea, in 1968.  She experienced acute poverty, famine, illness, and intimidation.  She first escaped at the age of 29.  After her second escape from North Korea, with the help of the UN, she was granted asylum seeker status in 2008 and moved to Bury, Greater Manchester, where she lives with her husband Kwang and three children.  She has been outreach and project officer at the European Alliance for Human Rights in North Korea and is a human rights activist.

Seh-Lynn Chai is South Korean.  She divides her time between London, where she lives with her family, and Seoul, where her parents reside.  She has a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in French Literature from L'Université Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV) and an MBA from Columbia Business School.  After a career in finance at JP Morgan, she is now an active campaigner for peace on the Korean Peninsula and for human rights and has served on the Korean government's Peaceful Unification Advisory Council.


'I am still reeling. ... How does one person carry so much -- the pain of a family lost and life destroyed, and the joy and challenge of a new family and a new life in such an unfamiliar place?' Financial Times

'Courage and sacrifice befall few. Jihyun is one of those few. This fascinating and shocking book allows us to stand with Jihyun and others like her.' Lord David Alton

'A riveting story of pain, suffering, starvation, betrayal, abandonment, and ultimately redemption. This deeply personal tale offers profound insights on human nature and the inhumanity of the North Korean state. Jihyun Park's courage is a true inspiration.' Professor Sung-Yoon Lee, author of The Sister


This event is free and open to the public.  Registration is requested and can be done on the library’s website at

If you are unable to attend this event, you may reserve a signed copy of “The Hard Road Out” by calling The Hickory Stick Bookshop at (860) 868 0525, or shop our website 24/7 at  




Event date: 
Saturday, June 3, 2023 - 3:00pm
Event address: 
The Judy Black Memorial Park & Gardens
1 Green Hill Rd
Washington Depot, CT 06794
The Hard Road Out: One Woman's Escape from North Korea By Jihyun Park, Seh-Lynn Chai, Sarah Baldwin (Translator) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780008541408
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Harpernorth - January 31st, 2023