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Starred Review. A fascinating and deeply personal look at the lives of six defectors from the repressive totalitarian regime of the Republic of North Korea, in which Demick, an L.A. Times staffer and former Seoul bureau chief, draws out details of daily life that would not otherwise be known to Western eyes because of the near-complete media censorship north of the arbitrary border drawn after Japan's surrender ending WWII. As she reveals, ordinary life in North Korea by the 1990s became a parade of horrors, where famine killed millions, manufacturing and trade virtually ceased, salaries went unpaid, medical care failed, and people became accustomed to stepping over dead bodies lying in the streets. Her terrifying depiction of North Korea from the night sky, where the entire area is blacked out from failure of the electrical grid, contrasts vividly with the propaganda on the ground below urging the country's worker-citizens to believe that they are the envy of the world. Thorough interviews recall the tremendous difficulty of daily life under the regime, as these six characters reveal the emotional and cultural turmoil that finally caused each to make the dangerous choice to leave. As Demick weaves their stories together with the hidden history of the country's descent into chaos, she skillfully re-creates these captivating and moving personal journeys. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
*Starred Review* In spite of the strict restrictions on foreign press, award-winning journalist Demick caught telling glimpses of just how surreal and mournful life is in North Korea. Her chilling impressions of a dreary, muffled, and depleted land are juxtaposed with a uniquely to-the-point history of how North Korea became an industrialized Communist nation supported by the Soviet Union and China and ruled by Kim Il Sung, then collapsed catastrophically into poverty, darkness, and starvation under the dictator’s son, Kim Jong Il. Demick’s bracing chronicle of the horrific consequences of decades of brutality provide the context for the wrenching life stories of North Korean defectors who confided in Demick. Mi-ran explains that even though her “tainted blood” (her father was a South Korean POW) kept her apart from the man she loved, she managed to become a teacher, only to watch her starving students waste away. Dr. Kim Ki-eum could do nothing to help her dying patients. Mrs. Song, a model citizen, was finally forced to face cruel facts. Strongly written and gracefully structured, Demick’s potent blend of personal narratives and piercing journalism vividly and evocatively portrays courageous individuals and a tyrannized state within a saga of unfathomable suffering punctuated by faint glimmers of hope. --Donna Seaman --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.See all Editorial Reviews
In the book "Nothing to Envy," Demick reveals the truth behind all utopian governmental schemes: what begins at Heaven's Gate ends in a worldly prison. Read morePublished 7 days ago by David Wilkins
Shocking that such an intolerant regime exists in today's world and that their citizens are so oppressed. Read morePublished 8 days ago by LH
I am new to the individual stories of people who come from that part of the world. I usually keep up to date with the current events of the country and the politics as a whole. Read morePublished 18 days ago by BigFrankNYC1
Amazing. My parents are Korean War babies and to get a glimpse of what they went through as young children is remarkable. Read morePublished 18 days ago by J
This book should be required reading in every Modern History course taught. It give excellent insight into the social and political mind set of one of lest known and understood... Read morePublished 20 days ago by mt
Heartbreaking yet informative, every account is vivid and accurate, especially in comparison to other NK defector's accounts I have read to date. Read morePublished 27 days ago by P