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My Holiday in North Korea: The Funniest/Worst Place on Earth Paperback – May 3, 2016
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"You remember Eat, Love, Pray and Under the Tuscan Sun? Yeah, this really isn’t like those. It’s better.” ―San Francisco Chronicle
“...funny, witty, and fascinating....if you have a weird fascination for North Korea and need a little laughter and raw utter truth as to what it is like vacationing there then I urge you to go read this book.” ―San Francisco Book Review
“…an irresistible read…. Simmons presents a rare and fascinating look at the tourist's North Korea in a work that is humorous, appalling, and very sad. A highly recommended and revealing glimpse into a secretive land.” ―Library Journal
“A death-defying adventure, filled with despair and tiny pieces of hope, and beautiful ― I wish I was as brave as Wendy.” (James Altucher Bestselling author, entrepreneur, podcaster)
“Wendy Simmons traveled to a place few of us will ever go and found herself in the ultimate Potemkin Village. Her intrepid desire to discover the reality behind the stagecraft escorts the reader through My Holiday in North Korea with words and pictures that render this mysterious country both knowable and unknowable, and always fascinating. Simmons’ insightful and funny storytelling evocatively captures the deception, corruption, humor and, ultimately, anguished humanity of a bizarre nation. It’s a wild trip.” (Jon Reiner James Beard Award-winning author of The Man Who Couldn’t Eat)
“My Holiday In North Korea by the very funny Wendy Simmons is a must-read for anyone who wants to lift the veil and spy on the real North Korea. But more than that, it is Ms. Simmons ease at being a traveler to distant and strange lands that gives this book its unusual insight into what people behind a real iron curtain think, and yes, feel.” (Maria T. Lemmon Novelist, a screenwriter, and the author of Confessions of a So-Called Middle Child, and Making It Up as I go Along)
“Wendy Simmons gives a glimpse into NoKo in this humorous and entertaining book. Through her eyes we see the sometimes absurd, yet always aching existence of a country under the thumb of oppressive rule.” (Myles Kennedy Singer/Songwriter Alter Bridge/Slash & The Conspirators)
“Writer and photographer Wendy Simmons shares a personal account of her vacation to one of the most reclusive nations on the planet, North Korea. During her journey she finds herself caught between an international crisis sparked by the release of the Sony Pictures film The Interview and accidentally crashing the ‘wedding’ of a North Korean bride to be.” (Gabriel Sanchez Buzzfeed)
From the Back Cover
A born explorer, she is thrilled when granted a rare entry visa―despite the country’s penchant for detaining tourists.
In My Holiday in North Korea: The Funniest/Worst Place on Earth, Wendy offers readers a glimpse of North Korea as it’s never been seen before. Because even though it’s one of the scariest places on Earth, she somehow forgets to check her sense of humor at the border. Even worse, she’s never met a rule she didn’t want to break!
Oh my Dear Leader.
But Wendy’s initial amusement and bewilderment soon turn into frustration and growing paranoia. For ten days, she hurtles through a “North Korea is Great! America is Not!” tour. She’s attached by a virtual shock-collar to two female handlers, who monitor her every step―and guard their every word. And Wendy’s pretty convinced one of them is crazy, even by North Korean standards.
Before long, she learns the essential conundrum of “tourism” in North Korea.
“Travel is truly a love affair. But, just like love, it’s a two-way street. And North Korea deprives you of all this. They want you to fall in love with the singular vision of the country they’re willing to show you and nothing more.”
Ultimately she’s left with more questions than answers―the most urgent being whether she can find a bathroom with running water, electricity, AND toilet paper!
Through poignant and laugh-out-loud essays, Wendy chronicles one of the strangest vacations ever. Along the way she bares all while trying to befriend her enigmatic minders, and undergoes an inner journey as convoluted as the country itself.
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I rolled my eyes. The writing is conversational, observant, and the right amount of irreverent describing her interactions with the people and places along the way. I recommend this as a great glimpse into the dichotomy that is North Korea and is particularly relevant considering our political climate, leaders on-going twitter wars, and of course nuclear testing. This book is not a research book or political commentary. This is the story of Wendy's experience as a tourist.