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Only Beautiful, Please: A British Diplomat in North Korea Paperback – June 26, 2012


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Only Beautiful, Please: A British Diplomat in North Korea + The Real North Korea: Life and Politics in the Failed Stalinist Utopia + Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Asia-Pacific Research Center (June 26, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1931368252
  • ISBN-13: 978-1931368254
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #355,779 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

John Everard's career as a British diplomat spanned nearly thirty years and four continents, and included a number of politically sensitive posts. As the youngest-ever British ambassador when he was appointed to Belarus, he built an embassy from the ground up just a few short years after the fall of the Soviet Union. He also skillfully managed diplomatic relations as the UK ambassador to Uruguay during a period of economic crisis and the country's election of its first left-wing government.

Following a year as a Pantech Fellow at Stanford University's Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, Everard now works as a consultant for the UN in New York City.

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Customer Reviews

This is a very interesting and well-written account of life in North Korea six or so years ago.
M. James
I had read some books before by North Koreans, but they were all defectors, who can't really be called "average" representatives of that deeply troubled nation.
Meaghan
This book is very well written and can be read pretty quickly (if that can be considered a plus).
D. West

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Meaghan on November 25, 2012
Format: Paperback
Although the writing was somewhat dry, anyone interested in North Korea would find this book fascinating. The author spent 2006 through 2008 there as the British ambassador, and seeks to tell, as well as he can, what daily life is like for the average North Korean. His reports were full of surprises. North Korean society is full of contradictions, I'll leave it at that.

I had read some books before by North Koreans, but they were all defectors, who can't really be called "average" representatives of that deeply troubled nation. I'm sure Mr. Everard's point of view is necessarily limited, but I still feel like I learned a great deal from him about ordinary life there, much more than I learned from the defectors' memoirs.

I might also add that he goes into the background of the Korean War and so on, so that even people who know nothing about it (which would include me) will not get lost. This book made me want to find out more about the Korean War.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the topic. I give this four and a half stars, rounded up to five, since Amazon doesn't do half-stars.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By handr on January 12, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was really happy with this book. John Everard is a knowledgeable diplomat, and the book was a pleasure to read. I've read a bunch of books on North Korea (Escape from Camp 14, The Aquariums of Pyongyang, Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader, Nothing to Envy, This is Paradise, North of the DMZ) - enough to qualify myself unofficially as a North Korea book junkie! This book was wonderful because it really did have something new to say - it provided a unique description of life in Pyongyang from the point of view of a Western diplomat. The political analysis sections at the end of the book were enlightening as well. Definitely worth reading. I actually found myself feeling sad when I was done with the book!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Catalin Braescu on July 9, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Obviously the author doesn't believe a new stint to Pyongyang is in the books, therefore he bares it all for the readers (with the understandable exception of confidential diplomatic stuff). The book presents a calm, balanced view on North Korea, with plenty of British humour here and there. The ending is a bit on the pessimistic side. Highly recommended for anyone interested in North Korea.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Fran on April 23, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Was a very informative read as it's written by an ex British Diplomat in North Korea. Seemed very honest and unbiased view of things in that very strange country. Didn't cover much about Human Rights issues though which I feel he must've known about, living there. Still interesting read. A wee bit long winded towards the end and I found myself skipping some pages but would still recommend it.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I bought Kindle version of this book despite reading reviews here suggesting prose was dry. Boy...they aren't kidding. I forced myself to read the first chapter which could have been fascinating but unfortunately read exactly like a UN country report. Book formatting with single paragraphs and no indents doesn't help.

Don't' have willpower to continue beyond first chapter. So can't comment further.

However I would say that nothing I read in the first chapter was in any way new. surprising or interesting.

Sorry but I will find a more interesting book about North Korea,

This book does indeed read like it has been written by a British Diplomat.
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This is a neat look at the inside of the "Hermit Kingdom" by someone intimately acquainted with it. He doesn't see the full measure of things there (his position wouldn't get him into too much contact with slave laborers, y'know...), but writes honestly and describes life there as well as anyone could. It's a great read for anyone interested in life in North Korea.
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its pretty dry..."NOTHING TO ENVY" is a much better read. The most interesting aspect of the book is how the author "who lived there" makes it sound so dull.
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This was an informative and insightful look at the country I've spent a number of years living in the shadow of (I'm currently in Seoul, South Korea). This is a great complement to Barbara Demick's "Nothing to Envy" and "The Aquariums of Pyongyang" by Kang Chol-hwan. John Everard speaks from experience, giving a balanced briefing on a country that I am well aware I still know so little about even though I've been reading about it in earnest for years now. There's always something new to learn, and countless perspectives to take in.
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