Released on 26 March 2015.

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The Great Leader and the Fighter Pilot

The True Story of the Tyrant Who Created North Korea and the Young Lieutenant Who Stole His Way to Freedom

3.99 based on 716 ratings & 138 reviews on


An ambitious and gripping exploration of the world's most secretive state through the intertwined lives of two North Koreans, one infamous, one obscure: Kim Il Sung, the former North Korean leader and No Kum Sok, once the state's youngest jet fighter pilot. Shortly before the Korean War ended, their paths crossed. Kim Il Sung congratulated No Kum Sok on his flying skill and courage, but just a few months later, No Kum Sok stole a Soviet-made MiG-15 and escaped to a US airfield in South Korea.

This non-fiction thriller digs deeply into the character of the Kim family dictatorship. Both an irresistible adventure story and an authoritative guide to the notorious state, The Great Leader and the Fighter Pilot explains why North Korea remains so isolated, why it created and maintains its concentration camps, and why it is still so angry at the western world.

'Harden's book, besides being a gripping story, unsparingly told, carries a freight of intelligence about this black hole of a country' New York Times on Escape from Camp 14

In the media

A riveting book that makes the history of North Korea accessible to the general reader.
Wall Street Journal
There's no country on Earth quite like the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, or North Korea . . . The place exists; it's in our consciousness, occasionally in our nightmares and, now and again, in the news - but what is this thing called North Korea? . . . Blaine Harden has done more than anyone else to bring the country to a mass audience.
Washington Post
Even readers who think they know about the Korean War will find things in this book that will surprise them.
Seattle Times