❮PDF / Epub❯ ☆ Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea Author Barbara Demick – Dailytradenews.co.uk

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea pdf Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, ebook Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, epub Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, doc Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, e-pub Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea 448978e1b51 An Eye Opening Account Of Life Inside North Korea A Closed World Of Increasing Global Importance Hailed As A Tour De Force Of Meticulous Reporting The New York Review Of Books NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FINALIST In This Landmark Addition To The Literature Of Totalitarianism, Award Winning Journalist Barbara Demick Follows The Lives Of Six North Korean Citizens Over Fifteen Years A Chaotic Period That Saw The Death Of Kim Il Sung, The Rise To Power Of His Son Kim Jong Il The Father Of Kim Jong Un , And A Devastating Famine That Killed One Fifth Of The PopulationDemick Brings To Life What It Means To Be Living Under The Most Repressive Regime Today An Orwellian World That Is By Choice Not Connected To The Internet, Where Displays Of Affection Are Punished, Informants Are Rewarded, And An Offhand Remark Can Send A Person To The Gulag For Life She Takes Us Deep Inside The Country, Beyond The Reach Of Government Censors, And Through Meticulous And Sensitive Reporting We See Her Subjects Fall In Love, Raise Families, Nurture Ambitions, And Struggle For Survival One By One, We Witness Their Profound, Life Altering Disillusionment With The Government And Their Realization That, Rather Than Providing Them With Lives Of Abundance, Their Country Has Betrayed ThemPraise For Nothing To Envy Provocative Offers Extensive Evidence Of The Author S Deep Knowledge Of This Country While Keeping Its Sights Firmly On Individual Stories And Human Details The New York Times Deeply Moving The Personal Stories Are Related With Novelistic Detail The Wall Street Journal A Tour De Force Of Meticulous Reporting The New York Review Of Books Excellent Humanizes A Downtrodden, Long Suffering People Whose Individual Lives, Hopes And Dreams Are So Little Known Abroad San Francisco Chronicle The Narrow Boundaries Of Our Knowledge Have Expanded Radically With The Publication Of Nothing To Envy Elegantly Structured And Written, It Is A Groundbreaking Work Of Literary Nonfiction John Delury, Slate At Times A Page Turner, At Others An Intimate Study In Totalitarian Psychology The Philadelphia Inquirer


10 thoughts on “Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

  1. says:

    They don t stop to think that in the middle of this black hole, in this bleak, dark country where millions have died of starvation, there is also love. A painfully human look at North Korea mostly through the eyes of defectors now living in South Korea or China.Demick peels back the layers of propaganda, parades and leader worship to expose the people and lives underneath If you re anything like me, you ll find it hard not to be fascinated by this exceptionally secretive country and wonder what everyday life can really be like living in one of the strictest regimes on earth.Of course, even in the darkest places there are love stories, hopes, dreams and family dynamics We see a young couple courting in secret over many years, a woman who loses everything during the devastating famine of the 1990s a famine which killed anywhere between a few hundred thousand and several million people and a man sent to a hard labor camp for petty crimes Families of defectors, no matter how innocent, are rounded up and shipped off to camps that may as well be called death camps.Its was extremely interesting to get a look inside this closed country, and perhaps even interesting to see the outside world through the eyes of those who escaped I can t even imagine what it must be like to cross a border and discover that the world is nothing like you always believed.I recently really enjoyed the fictional Korean story in Pachinko, which begins before the country s division and during the Japanese colonization, so it was great to see the history that so intrigued me expanded upon here For one thing, I had no idea that traditional dress for Korean women was a head to toe veil, not unlike the burka There were lots of small facts like this that I found fascinating.Nothing to Envy reminds us of something important That underneath all the craziness that is this regime and its deified leader, there are than 20 million people just trying to feed their families, live their lives, and not get killed for it Blog Facebook Twitter Instagram Youtube


  2. says:

    One thread of this riveting National Book Award finalist is a love story Mi san is an attractive girl from a family that does not have the right stuff, history wise, her father having fought for South Korea in the war They are considered impure by the North Korean government and society as a whole Her prospects are only so so Jun sang is headed to university in Pyongyang to study science His future includes a good job, a membership in the party and a life of relative privilege One enchanted evening, Jun, at age 15, sees her across a crowd at a local movie theater in the northeastern city of Chongjin, and is smitten For the next ten years, they will dance a courtship ballet that is both endearing and horrifying Dr Kim Ji eun is a sprite of a woman, a true believer in a system that allowed her to become a doctor But in time she comes to feel differently Learning that all her extra work gains her nothing from her boss Working in a hospital that loses all it s electricity, its running water, it s supplies, watching scores of children die of starvation will do that to a person.Song Hee Suk, or Mrs Song is another true believer in the North Korean way, volunteering for all sorts of party activities in addition to working full time and caring for her family She embodies the entrepreneurial spirit here, attempting to put food on the table when there is no work She keeps trying to start micro small businesses, struggling mightily against the popular ethos that such activity is inherently wrong, selling all her family s possessions for the money to start her enterprise Nothing to Envy is a riveting, grim portrait of perhaps the most repressive nation on earth, a personification of H.G Wells dark authoritarian nightmare Barbara Demick is a big time foreign correspondent, for the LA Times since 2001 She became the Times Korea bureau chief, and has written much on life behind this particular bamboo curtain She follows the lives of six North Koreans, all from the northeastern industrial city of Chongjin, and brings us their oral histories Ultimately all of them find their way to South Korea It is through their eyes that we see the reality of life in the North Their stories continue once they have crossed the border, and their stories of adapting to such a strange new world are interesting, but the real core here is the images we get of life in North Korea.It is truly amazing to learn how complete was and still is the control of the authoritarian regime in North Korea, how effective the cradle to grave propaganda has been and how alarming the elevation of the Dear Leader to a god like status It is chilling to hear accounts of how the nation sank into famine, remarkable to learn what a doctor s life entails, infuriating to learn of the lives of homeless orphans, or wandering swallows, as they are known.It is not at all surprising to see how neighbor eagerly turns in neighbor for thought crimes I mean we all went to school, and one can always count on there being those who seek advantage by undercutting others But getting in trouble with one s teacher is not quite the same as being transported to a slave labor camp, being marked for life as impure, being shunned or worse.I expect that most of us have a somewhat cartoonish image of North Korea, focusing on the mad king, sorry, party chairman, his dreams of nuclear power and the willingness of the North Korean people to believe all sorts of fantastical things about him It merits knowing what the poor people of North Korea must endure The horror there, the inhumanity, how the denial of reality affects real people, with real lives It is no laughing matter.Demick also offers a very insightful look at similarities between those who have escaped the north and holocaust survivors, an apprehension of the qualities one must nurture in order to survive in extreme conditions, and she notes the collateral damage from defecting The people she portrays in Nothing to Envy are as masterfully portrayed as characters in a great novel We come to care about their travails, and get to see their flaws as well as their strengths These are indeed the ordinary people promised in the books title, shown in an extraordinary way.There is indeed nothing to envy in North Korea, but it is important for us all to have some idea of what goes on there, if for no other reason than to be able to point to an example of how things shouldn t be Demick s book will make you angry and it will make you sad It should.P.S.There is an impressive bibliography at the end for this book for any who might be inspired to read about this place in depth EXTRA STUFF2 13 12 North Korea Agrees to Curb Nuclear Work U.S Offers Aid The question is not raised in this New York Times article if any of the food aid will ever find its way to the general population or will be taken to feed the army and party officials6 14 13 GR friend Jan Rice, in comment 8 below, posted on June 13, 2013, included a link to an AP story about NK, particularly how schools are still promoting hatred of Americans I was reminded, although to a much lesser degree, of how how we were all taught to hate the dirty commies back in my school days Here is that link, again IN NORTH KOREA, LEARNING TO HATE US STARTS EARLY By Jean H Lee9 18 17 A riveting New Yorker Magazine article on the mindset in North Korea must reading, given the recent ratcheting up of tensions Even a dotard could learn something here On the Brink by Evan Osnos7 23 2018 Fascinating tale in GQ of the American who was returned from NK imprisonment with brain damage much on fact vs fiction in reportage of that The Untold Story of Otto Warmbier, American Hostage By Doug Bock Clark


  3. says:

    An amazing, unforgettable book about North Korea Barbara Demick explores the most closed off society in the world through the stories of six ordinary North Koreans who defect to South Korea beginning in the late 1990s Through their stories, Demick covers a bit of everything the pathological weirdness that was is Kim Il sung and Kim Jong Il and the cult of worship and fear of reprisal that made people cry harder at the former s death than they ever had in their lives, the role of a totalitarian government in the everyday lives of people, the deterioration of North Korea into blackouts famine starvation, South Korea s China s reception of North Korean defectors very skillfully without sensationalizing the subject matter speaks for itself Here are both moments of beauty the reminiscences of two of the profiled North Koreans about how the blackouts at night allowed them to chastely walk and talk outside their village for hours at a time and, frequently, moments of horror families deliberately winnowing down their members, i.e., starving everyone else to spare the children, who as the only surviving members of their families then became homeless begging kotjebi literally swallows As a new mother, I could not imagine being in a position where I could not provide enough food for my young toddler thinking about all the orphaned kotjebi made me have to put down the book, pause, and collect myself before I could proceed Not the only such moment.Demick also discusses the guilt and shame that many defectors have One woman who left her children and ex husband in North Korea mourns, I sacrified my babies for myself A mother who defects with one daughter is never able to forgive herself because, following their defections, her other two daughters who were still in North Korea were arrested and presumably sent to a labor camp Another woman, now in South Korea with its plenties and excesses, is haunted by her husband s last words before he died during the famine, Let s go to a good restaurant and order a nice bottle of wine I was especially moved by this book It is completely heartbreaking in many places I, already a sentimental reader in case you, dear Goodreads readers, haven t already ascertained as much , tend to get even sentimental when I read about Korea Moreover, and relevantly, my dad is from North Korea, and I can t help but wonder about the fates of relatives I don t even know about This book should have great appeal beyond my myopically sentimental lens, fortunately, as it is extremely well written and compulsively readable and deserves to be widely read and discussed.


  4. says:

    There are few books like this written today concise, well researched, plainly yet effectively written, and free of hyperbole This book is a very personal account of six lives in the failed state of North Korea The level of deprivation and humiliation these people endure is heartbreaking The book reads like an outstanding piece of social anthropology than it does cut and dried journalism The author is to be commended for her ability to get inside both the hearts and minds of the people she has interviewed I think that Nothing To Envy is a landmark book, a study of a culture and political system gone horribly wrong, that will be read for decades As the author notes, North Korea is the last of its kind, a state with an entrenched despotic, supposedly Marxist, leader who denies not only basic freedoms but also the basic provisions necessary to maintain any quality of life Reading this book in the comfort of my own well heated home, I felt both pity for those that live in North Korea and anger for the inability of the rest of the world to do anything while North Korea s citizens starve to death The impact of this book is both emotional and intellectual I highly recommend this book to anyone concerned about the social welfare of people and the role that government plays in people s lives.


  5. says:

    The ordinary people whose lives are presented in this incredible book lead no ordinary lives They survive against all odds, despite the totalitarian system which aims at supressing everything that is called normal normal working conditions, normal education, normal shops, normal family bonds etc etc So far I have watched only several short documentaries on North Korea, now I have read a book which is not fiction Written ten years ago, it is a collection of accounts by those fortunate who had courage and opportunity to flee the last truly totalitarian state It is unimagonable that a state can have such a power over their citizens and is able to suppress a slightest thought of resistance.


  6. says:

    In the aftermath of the Korean war my mother s brother left an enigmatic note on his pillow before stepping out for school He never returned and the family lamented his apparent suicide A half century later a list of names is published in Koreas national paper Part of the warming relations between North and South Korea, it offered the chance for families separated by the border to connect So far nearly 20 thousand Koreans have participated in face to face meetings My uncle s name is there along with some briefly sketched details of the family tree He is very much alive and living in North Korea This was the first any of the family had ever heard from him.My mother eventually traveled to North Korea to meet with her brother My uncle was wearing a gold watch and a thinning suit He confided that they were provided by the government solely for the visit Other Koreans reunited with long lost relations were at nearby tables Many had brought gifts of linens, food and clothing He quietly admitted that gifts were pointless as their intended recipients would probably never see them again My mother never talked too much about the visit After a lifetime apart what do you say Her brother is relatively affluent by North Korean standards, a professor who has raised a large family Still, his face was gaunt, his teeth stained and crooked His hands trembled constantly I thought about my uncle a lot while I was reading Nothing to Envy In it author Barbara Demick pieces together the lives of 6 North Koreans who eventually defect to South Korea It is an incredible and difficult read, especially the chapters outlining the devastating famine of the 1990 s which claimed almost 10% of the population The stories are riveting and framed beautifully This isn t some dry recounting of facts outlining the poverty of North Korea but wondrously intertwined narratives that don t end with pat answers once they reach South Korea Great read.


  7. says:

    A physician, possessing numerous years of education and selfless service to her people, comes upon a isolated farm in a dark field at twilight The doctor is starving, malnourished and ravenous She seeks crumbs, maybe a scrap of corn to eat Slowly, she makes her way into a barn, musty with the odor of hay and equipment She has not seen than a handful worth of white rice in years Indeed, white rice is a rare luxury in the world she comes from.Suddenly, she sees in the dark of the barn a gleam of a beaten metal bowl with cold lumps of glistening meat, surrounded by heaps of bright white grains Could it be rice Dear God, is that fatty pork How could this be possible Why would all this rich food be just lying here, in the middle of the floor of a dirty cold barn Just then, she hears the dog.As Barbara Demick icily observes at this moment in the book, Dr Kim now realized the truth in China, dogs ate better than doctors did back in North Korea It is a moment of epiphany, and one of six realizations that separate six defectors lives from their existence in North Korea from their subsequent lives in the free world It is almost ridiculous to think of China as a truly open and free society, but the constant suppression and fear of the North Korean regime makes it so for the residents that flee to the border An interesting observation from this book and its collection of defectors stories is that it wasn t the lack of freedom, or the lack of money, or even the lack of status that propelled people to defect from this state, but the wholesale lack of food Without food rations, there simply was not any reason for people to stay at their assigned posts or cities they simply drifted away, or plucked the surrounding hillsides clean of any grass or edible root, or with their last bit of strength, dared the dangerous borders to relative freedom.If you need something to refocus your appreciation for your life, no matter how flawed or unsatisfactory it may be right now read this book It will change the way you think about North Korea, and definitely the way you might look at your own problems Your life isn t so bad after all, huh


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  9. says:

    This book was simultaneously a page turner and hard as hell to read I had trouble falling asleep last night because of it, and when I did I had some unsettling nightmares This isn t a book I can read, write an oh that s nice, that definitely added to my life type of review and go about my day This is some seriously skillful nonfiction It calls to mind being fourteen and reading Wild Swans There s a similar structure to both works history of a country to get the big picture, and memoirs of individual experiences to personalize statistics and news bulletins And, this is harder to quantify or describe, both books gave me a sick, horrified feeling, even as I felt like parts of my brain were lighting up with brand new information Some of the best non fiction makes a reader feel like they can connect seemingly disparate facts together, and history makes a little sense, and you can t remain distant any longer Straight off, I need to say that this is not tragedy porn That s not why I felt so overwhelmed by this Demick is respectful of the North Korean defectors that she interviews, and never ventures into the realm of the maudlin The individual lives take center stage, illuminated by what we know of North Korean history The reader isn t allowed to rest on their laurels Capitalism doesn t make their lives 100% better when they escape, and pretty much right off the bat Demick clarifies that Nothing To Envy is not about oh those wacky North Koreans Much of this book demonstrates how to brainwash an entire country into an entire ideology as well as how, and when, the North Koreans discussed here realized they had been deceived I was astonished by the ingenuity of every single one of the people profiled, both when it came to surviving the famine and when they had to escape This book bring back individuality to a nation that s so often reduced to a horror story or a joke And, yeah, to circle back to my opening paragraph The sense of individuality in this book will stick with me I m completely overwhelmed by just how many lives have been snuffed out in the North Korean famine So many people with stories akin to those featured in Nothing To Envy Gone.


  10. says:

    Nothing to Envy Ordinary Lives in North Korea Barbara Demick is an American author and journalist Our father, we have nothing to envy in the world Our house is within the embrace of the Workers Party We are all brothers and sisters Even if a sea of fire comes toward us, sweet children do not need to be afraid, our father is here We have nothing to envy in this world Popular song taught to North Korean school children praising the Dear Leader Six years after its original publication, Barbara Demick s remarkable work of investigative journalism remains a very compelling, reader friendly account of what is like to live and escape from one of the most brutal and repressive states in the world.Reading Nothing to Envy Ordinary Lives in North Korea, felt like stepping into a large scale re enactment of George Orwell s 1984 If somebody had intentionally set out to recreate the famous novel, they couldn t have done a better job than what this dystopian like regime has become.The subtitle of the book might as well have been called How to make it as a Dictator in the 21st Century For anybody that has such aspirations, this might be the best how to manual available.Be aware though, as despotic regimes go, the Kim dynasty, with their 70 year ruling over the so called Hermit Kingdom, is a tough act to follow Here are some pointers on how to do it Foster a cult of personality that raises you to a God like status allowing you to harness the power of faith, invoke religious sentiments among the people and manipulate them at your will Enforce a policy requiring that every household ostentatiously displays your photo The Public Standards Police should make surprise visits to ensure strict compliance When a devastating famine hits your country due to your failed economic policies, allow that up to 2 Million or roughly 10% of your people die of hunger The first ones to perish would be the sick, the children and the elderly Establish work labor camps that could manage as many as 200,000 political prisoners or the equivalent of 2% of your country s population Citizens might be taken to these camps for crimes as petty as failing to go to work Use any medium available to relentlessly deliver propaganda, especially to children, demonizing the foreign bastards , namely, America, Japan, and South Korea Use the threat of nuclear and biological weapons to coerce those same foreign bastards countries into providing billions of dollars in food aid to your country without any pre conditions Talking about weapons, be willing to spend up to 25% of your country s GDP versus the average 5% used by most developed countries to sustain your military army and infrastructure Make sure the population is blocked from getting access to any news or communications from the outside world If they ever learn that their counterparts in the south have an income per capita 20 times higher than theirs, that your infant mortality is 7 times higher and that their life expectancy is at least 10 years longer, you could lose control over the people and who knows where that might lead.So this is how you attempt to control a country of 24 million people, who continue to be the victims of their leaders utopian Stalinist fantasies Chol a pseudonym , a nine year old North Korean boy, shows a picture of the place where he was raised by his grandparents in North Korea Photo by Katharina HesseIn interviews, Demick has mentioned that her motivation to write this book was to find answers to questions many of us have What happens to people living in the most totalitarian of regimes Do they lose their essential humanity What were they thinking behind the blank stares of the video footage we saw of mass gymnastics or goose stepping soldiers Were these people anything like us Nothing To Envy also gives the reader a condensed history of the Korean peninsula, how it got fractured and North Korea s role as it relates to the major powers in the region, both with its allies China and Russia and its foes Japan and South Korea.Primarily though, the book focuses on the plight of the North Korean people right after the economic collapse of the late 1990 s and the brutal famine that followed.Demick does a remarkable job at humanizing this story by introducing us to six North Koreans that fled the industrial city of Chongjin There is even a love story, albeit one of the star crossed lovers variety, as alas, a happy ending was not meant to be.The author portrays these men and women with profound respect and sensitivity and painstakingly re creates their everyday lives in amazing detail Inevitably, one by one realizes that their government has betrayed them and that all they ve been told throughout their whole lives have been propaganda and lies Hating starts early North Korean children line up to view anti U.S propaganda posters One of the people we meet is Mi ran, a sensible kindergarten teacher who is considered to have tainted blood because her father was born in South Korea.Hers is one of the most heartbreaking of all these stories As an elementary teacher, she is expected to teach her pupils the blessings of being a North Korean, the best nation on earth, while she watches them die of starvation Jun sang, Mi ran s boyfriend, has Japanese relatives that help supplement his family s income This allows him to live a relatively privileged life He attends one of the best universities in Pyongyang, and as part of an intellectual elite enjoys some small perks that include access to western literary classics such as Gone with the Wind and One Hundred Years of Solitude A 20 year old refugee from North Korea in a farmhouse in northern China hides his identity Photo by Katharina HesseWe also get to know Kim Ji Eun, a 28 year old pediatrician at a small district hospital who has been a lifetime staunch supporter of the North Korea s Worker s Party.She begins to question her loyalty to the party after her father dies during the famine and her superiors give orders that compromise her Hippocratic oath.The relentless search by ordinary citizens for food from any conceivable source weeds, frogs, and insects is a heartbreaking and constant theme of these stories The accounts of Mi Ran and Dr Kim are particularly difficult to read because they involved starving children as well as the elderly.One of the most powerful scenes in the book happens after Doctor Kim, who has just crossed the river into China, bone tired, starving and dripping wet stumbles into the courtyard of a farmhouse She is confused to see a bowl of rice and meat on the ground, just an hour out of North Korea she realizes that dogs in China eat better than doctors in North Korea Kim Jeong Ya a pseudonym a Chinese activist helps North Koreans defectors cross safely to China Photo by Katharina Hesse The majority of people become defectors by crossing the Tumen River which divides the two countries That is not an easy undertaking since the Chinese authorities monitor the border and routinely repatriate defectors back to North Korea.They also have to live with the reality that their escape may put the families they left behind in great danger as the government consistently retaliates by placing them in labor camps The customary term is anywhere from six months to three years.Reading the accounts of the defectors seems to suggest that a great deal of North Koreans is privately very aware and cynical about the leadership of their country and that they only play along out of fear of repercussions The Tumen River Photo by Katharina Hesse Nothing I ve read here or from any other source, suggests that this regime will collapse anytime soon But in recent years certain improvements have surfaced and the country has experienced something of an economic revival, at least by North Korean standards This is mostly the result of the constant flow of information coming from China and South Korea that is making its way into the North Over a million people now have mobile phones, many have personal computers the caveat is that there s no internet access , there are department stores with foreign goods and fancy restaurants in Pyongyang and the government has decided to tolerate small farmer markets.I suspect that if you are a well informed reader on North Korea issues, Nothing to Envy might not provide any significant amount of new information, if like me you are looking for a great introduction to this most secretive and fascinating of places, I would definitely recommend it In 2014 PBS s Frontline produced a riveting documentary called Secret State of North Korea I think it makes for a great companion to this book and it provides an updated picture of North Korea and the changes that have been taking place there in the last few years.You can find a link here As of the date of this review the program is also available on Netflix.You can find the majority of the pictures on this review here.


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