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Reviewed by Maria Beltran for Readers' Favorite
Violence and Humanity: A Saga by Aijalon M.G. is a true story about an American teacher who ends up in a remote jail in the dreaded Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Aijalon Gomes’ childhood in Boston is a struggle with his sexuality, race, and spirituality. He belongs to a dysfunctional family with a father in a mental hospital, and a history of sexual abuse. After graduation from Bowdoin College, he takes up an offer to teach English in South Korea, where he develops the reckless desire to go to North Korea and teach English there. His attempt to enter North Korea leads to his incarceration and subsequent conviction. He is sentenced to eight years of hard labor and fined $700,000 (USD), and for almost nine months his friends and family in the United States have no idea about his real situation.
Violence and Humanity: A Saga by Aijalon M.G. is the autobiography of a man who dared to enter reclusive North Korea. In a narrative that starts from his early years in the United States of America and ending with his struggles inside a North Korean jail, Aijalon Gomes bares his soul to his readers. It is a bit irrational for Aijalon to go to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea through the back door out of a simple desire of teaching English there. This is indeed how it looks on the surface, but beneath this veneer is obviously the desire to find his real purpose in life. The story is doubly interesting because it also gives us a glimpse of a country that is situated on the other side of the Iron Curtain. In light of the recent spate of executions in North Korea, this is a book that offers a peek on what is really going on behind the Korean Demilitarized Zone. Highly interesting!