A riveting read ... Lee has performed a remarkable feat. The portrait he paints is taken from official North Korean statements, defector accounts, video recordings of Ms. Kim’s public appearances, and the author’s own knowledge and deep understanding of the North drawn from a career immersed in Korean studies. His engrossing depictions of the three generations of Kim dictators help to explain the formation of Ms. Kim’s character and outlook ... A chilling saga.
Much of Lee’s analysis is sound and his hawkishness on North Korea has often been proven right. But this doesn’t necessarily make for a great book. The Sister has a rather one-note air to it. There is not much in the way of nuance in its analysis of South Korea’s response to Pyongyang and on more than one occasion the book veers into tendentiousness ... A less aware reader might get the impression from this book that Moon Jae-in was a sleeper agent of Pyongyang rather than a well-meaning naif whose desire for rapprochement may have been motivated by the fact that, as with many South Koreans, his family originally comes from the pre-war north. Lee is entitled to write the book he chooses, one where South Korean politics and society are a mere backdrop to the geopolitical stand-off with the DPRK. But the scant context and nuance mean The Sister, for all its merits, is a rather undercooked polemic.