Author Blaine Harden has one bestseller that used North Korea as a backdrop — 2012’s Escape From Camp 14, the story of how one man broke out of the country’s highest-security prison.
Now, with The Great Leader and the Fighter Pilot, he returns to familiar territory, and the intriguing subtitle sums it up nicely: The True Story of the Tyrant Who Created North Korea and the Young Lieutenant Who Stole His Way to Freedom. The young lieutenant is No Kum Sok, North Korea’s youngest fighter pilot, who longed to come to America. The alternate storyline focuses on the improbable power grab of the Great Leader, Kim Il Sung, who invented North Korea in the 1950s and passed on his hatred for the U.S. (The Great Enemy) to his son and grandson, the country’s current leader.
No — now 82, known as Ken Rowe and living in Florida — pulled off the ultimate deceit. While all the while loathing communism, he pretended to be a model comrade. No became a MiG pilot, trained in combat by the Russians. Then, he defected, bringing the MiG with him and delivering it into U.S. hands in South Korea.
“[No] flew more than 100 missions in a MiG fighter against Americans in the world’s first jet-to-jet war,” Harden says in press materials. “He tried never to shoot down an American (and never did) because his plan all along was to use his jet as an escape module to the United States. This book explains the incredible story of how he pulled it off.”
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— Celeste Williams
The Great Leader and the Fighter Pilot
by Blaine Harden