WASHINGTON – Impressed by the memoir of North Korean who spent 10 years in a forced labor camp (search), President Bush invited the author for a sit-down in the Oval Office on Monday.
Bush met for about 40 minutes with Chol-hwan Kang (search), author of "The Aquariums of Pyongyang: Ten Years in the North Korean Gulag."
After the Korean peninsula split, Kang returned to North Korea from Japan where he was living with his family. Upon returning, however, Kang ended up, at age 9, in a communist camp where people were executed or fed meager meals. He believes authorities suspected one of his relatives of being a counterrevolutionary.
Kang escaped to South Korea where he now lives in Seoul and works as a journalist.
"The president thought it was a compelling story," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said. "He's concerned about the human rights situation in North Korea."
This wasn't the first time Bush invited an author to the White House. Natan Sharansky (search), who served nine years in a Soviet prison for his efforts on behalf of fellow Jews, caught Bush's attention with his book, "The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror."
The president said he read it every night and invited Sharansky to the White House in November to discuss it.