Book Review: Nothing To Envy: Real Lives In North Korea

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Nothing To Envy by Barbara Demick is a collection of stories from people that have escaped from North Korea. Demick has focused on one city, Chongjin, an industrial city in the north of the county. It's part fiction but mostly based on the people she interviewed. There are six main 'characters' who are all very different. For example one of the North Koreans used to be a very big believer in the regime and was a model housewife, another was a doctor. I found this to be a particularly interesting read. As North Korea is such a secretive state, it's very hard to find out information about life there apart from stories told by the defectors, I think that was what really drew me to this novel. This won a BBC Samuel Jackson prize for non fiction and I can understand why. I learnt so many interesting things from reading this book. I had always assumed that the people in North Korea knew that their country was a lot different to everyone else's. But in this all of the people said that they were told that North Korea was actually the best off country, whilst they were hungry they believed they were lucky because as far as they were concerned everyone else was starving to death. It was a very interesting insight into the lies of North Korea's governments. I would thoroughly recommend this book, especially if you have an interest in politics or human rights. For me, this has started a fascination with North Korea and I'm now looking at some other books on the same subject.

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