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Customer Review

169 of 173 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably the best book about North Korea, 15 July 2010
This review is from: Nothing to Envy: Real Lives in North Korea (Paperback)
Once I started reading 'Nothing to Envy' I couldn't put it down. I've read several books on North Korea but this is probably the broadest and most human book I have read. It gives us fascinating insights into all of the strangest and cruellest aspects of the regime: the gulags, the cult of personality, the military, the class structure, the difficulties in integrating into a different country and an extremely disturbing and heartbreaking account of the famine. The stories come from a collection of 6 different North Koreans who eventually fled and defected to South Korea; amongst them are two young lovers - one an academic and one an elementary school teacher; a doctor; an orphaned boy; and a faithful communist and seemingly unwavering "believer" in the regime. One of the more interesting angles in the book are that all of the characters live and work in the North Eastern city of Chongjin (North Korea's 3rd largest city) which gives us a greater insight into the "real" North Korea that exists outside the show capital of Pyongyang. I'd definitely recommend this book to anybody interested in North Korea and it would also be a great starting point for those who don't know too much about the regime but are interested to learn as it is very broad and covers many aspects of what it is like for North Koreans. And to top it all of Barbara Demick's writing is beautiful - there are many memorable lines and images that she creates.
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