Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Nothing To Envy, by Barbara Demick

About a week before leaving for Korea I was listening to NPR (god I miss NPR when I'm here) on the radio while driving somewhere. They were interviewing a woman who worked for the Los Angeles Times as a correspondent in Asia and she had just recently published a new book called Nothing to Envy, Ordinary Lives in North Korea. After hearing the interview, I hit almost immediately and bought the book, praying it would arrive before I left for Korea.

Fortunately it did, and I started reading while waiting for my plane. Now, those that follow this blog will know that I have a slight obsession with North Korea. I don't know what it is but something about this country fascinates me like no other. Normally I don't seek out documentaries to watch, or non-fiction books to read, but when it comes to North Korea, I am just simply fascinated.

Anyway, I was immediately sucked into this book. This oral history of 6 people's lives in North Korea was simply fascinating. The story begins many years ago, back when North Korea was a developed country, then she follows the progression of how it slowly slipped back, going from a developed country with "nothing to envy" to a desperately poor nation with crumbling infrastructure and masses starving. All of the people she focuses on in the book have made it to South Korea, one way or another. She follows their lives and how they go from loyal citizens to crossing the border and making their way to the "enemy", South Korea.

Anyway, I highly recommend this book to anyone who is even slightly interested in the topic. I guarantee you will be satisfied. I'm hoping Korean booksellers will pick up this book, but I have no idea about the availability of this book in Korea. Check out your local booksellers and ask them to order it for you or get it on Amazon now!

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