Nothing to Envy: Real Lives in North Korea Paperback – 4 Feb 2010
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`A most perceptive and eye-opening account of everyday life in North Korea' --Jung Chang
`I loved it - I couldn't pull myself away. This is the first book I've read which tells me about the inner lives of individual North Koreans' --Lindsey Hilsum, International Editor, Channel 4 News
'A rare and valuable insight ... Nothing to Envy is a searchlight shining on a country cloaked in darkness'
About the Author
Barbar Demick has worked as a staff reported for the Philadelphia Inquirer, covering Wall Street and the presidential elections, among other assignments. Her coverage of the war in Sarajevo won the George Polk Award and the Robert F Kennedy Award, and she was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in international reporting. She is now a foreign correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, where she has reported from the MIddle East and South Korea. She is currently living in Beijing.
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Top Customer Reviews
This book not only offers an insight into the real lives of six North Koreans, and puts human names and faces on the statistics, but taught me several things I didn't even know. I knew there had been a famine in North Korea in the 90s, but I did not know how severe it actually was. This is possibly due in part to my age - I was born in '89, so I was too young to pay attention to any news broadcasts about it we may have had at the time. I didn't know that people were reduced to eating husks and the bark off of trees, with grass to create the illusion of vegetables. I didn't know that North Korea ended up losing most aid that was given, as it would only show the healthiest children when aid agencies came to see the extent of the famine, who then had to conclude they didn't need as much aid as they thought, and that the aid they did get was mostly confiscated by the military and sold for profit on the black market instead of being properly distributed.Read more ›
Having met Barbara Demick at the literary event where I purchased this book I was able to sample a rather intriguing appetizer of what was to come, however neither the discussion, nor my trip was to prepare me for the heartrending accounts of human adversity.
It is no secret that North Korea is a totalitarian state mired in abject poverty, but this timely volume provides personal accounts, putting human faces on North Koreas anonymous victims.
Nothing to Envy draws its title from a poems verse DPRK school children are made to recite, stating "we have nothing to envy in the world." While most in the West are able to see through that façade, the book takes us through a recollection of events wherein six DPRK citizens residing in North Koreas third largest city, Chongjin, eventually see through the ubiquitous illusion force fed upon the population, and endure heartbreaking hardship to flee the secretive state.
The book begins with the story of a young couple who use the all encapsulating darkness of the energy starved state to conduct a secret love affair, rendered almost impossible due to the class backgrounds within a supposedly classless society. Slowly we are introduced to more victims of North Koreas increasingly bleak disposition, all the while the story weaves back and forth between the main protagonists.
We learn how efficient and draconian the state apparatus is in the enforcement of state loyalty, how truly devastating the North Korean famine of mid 90s was, and also the continued hardship facing North Koreans after they have defected.Read more ›
If there is any criticism, it is merely that although it was written in 2009, it relates to the events of the 1990s. Screaming away in my mind was a voice asking 'what's it been like since?'
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Far and away the best book I have read on life in North Korea. Objective and insightful. A wonderful achievement.Published 1 day ago by K Humphrey
My daughter recommended this for my book club and I found it totally absorbing. I knew almost nothing about North Korea and find it extraordinary that a place like this still... Read morePublished 7 days ago by Busybee61
Fascinating and educational. Although non-fiction its a real page-turner.Published 20 days ago by L Craig
This book gives a real insight to living in North Korea. It's heartbreaking at times but positively unputdownable. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Jane Trueman
I loved this book and it's look into the secret world of North Korea. It is well written and I really enjoyed reading about a country that fascinates me. Highly recommended.Published 1 month ago by helenco
Amazing collection of first hand accounts from survivors of North Korea's 'Arduous March', the famine of the 1990s. A must read.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
I'm not normally a fan of "human interest stories," and of course these stories can't be complete, but think the approach is an entirely appropriate reaction to lack of... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Victoria Roberts