Posted in Reviews

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick – 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Very well done look at North Korea, thanks to those who were willing to relive the best and worst details of their lives to share with the world.

Recommended: ABSOLUTELY
For those who know nothing about North Korea, for those who know a boatload about North Korea, for a fantastic history of the country (and the whole peninsula, really), for moving stories of the people who grew up there, for an incredibly comprehensive and personal set of biographies

Masterful, truly.

Nothing to Envy follows the lives of six North Koreans over fifteen years—a chaotic period that saw the death of Kim Il-sung, the unchallenged rise to power of his son Kim Jong-il, and the devastation of a far-ranging famine that killed one-fifth of the population. Demick takes us deep inside the country, beyond the reach of government censors. Through meticulous and sensitive reporting, we see her six subjects—average North Korean citizens—fall in love, raise families, nurture ambitions, and struggle for survival. One by one, we experience the moments when they realize that their government has betrayed them.

Oh, wow. So I am not a beginner in learning about North Korea, but this book was a whole new style of writing about it that I deeply appreciated and was seriously impressed by. Although these are true stories of people who grew up in North Korea before making their way out of North Korea, it most often read like a novel.

Barbara Demick was able to construct painfully relatable experiences from the numerous interviews she conducted with the people she met who had defected. Historical context is given as well, to help the reader understand the significance of events and actions that are occurring.

I mean… I’m just blown away by this. An absolutely fantastic compilation, and my gratitude to all who contributed to it – especially the defectors who relived some of the most painful parts of their lives in great detail and shared it with the world.

Stunningly effective writing brings each person to life on the page until you feel as though you know them inside and out, which makes their losses hurt all the more. The most chilling aspect of this is remembering that these are real people, these stories being told actually happened, and most of all that there are countless other people for whom these stories are still their daily life experience.

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Reader, traveler, photographer, and always looking to learn!

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