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Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea Paperback – May 1, 2007
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Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
The drawing style in Pyongyang is a minimalist black and white that captures nicely the mirthless life in North Korea. You get a sense that the leadership is desperately trying to maintain a good face for the rest of the world but like the bridge in the book that only gets half painted the rust is bleeding through and the cracks are growing. There could hardly be a better advertisement for Capitalism and Democracy than the sterile, dystopia that is North Korea where airports and restaurants operate without lights and massive construction projects sit unfinished and crumbling. Freeways are built without exits and all the people listen to the same state run radio broadcast featuring music that sounds like "a cross between a national anthem and the theme song of a children's show".
North Korea has the same kind of creepiness as a cult except on a massive scale where Kim Jung Il acts as patron deity and his smiling visage is ever present in society.Read more ›
The book deals mainly with how frustrating life is in the capital, even for a privileged foreigner like him: bad food, constant surveillance, blaring propanda songs, etc.
It's probably most affecting when you get a real sense of the inner lives of his guide and translator. Both are very buttoned-up, proper and repressed. At one point Delisle lends one of them his copy of "1984"; when the guy returns it a week later he seems very nervous and mutters something about how he "doesn't like science fiction." On the other hand, he rejoices when he gets a bottle of Hennessy as a going-away present.
In the most terrifying episode Delisle asks his guide where all the handicapped people are in Pyongyang, and the guide responds that there aren't any handicapped people in North Korea. Yikes!
Highly recommended to any fan of first-person graphic journalism.
Delisle is sent to North Korea as an animator whose expertise as an animator is valued by the North Koreans. In the process, he learns how things work or don't work in this stark country. He sees and subtly critiques a country where massive buildings go unfinished, highways are without exit ramps, and airports and restaurants are without lights. Delisle's wry humor emerges throughout the story, including telling jokes that are above the heads of his humorless "Comrade Guide" and "Comrade Translator" and his habit of throwing paper airplanes out of his 15th floor hotel window. He shows the grim reality of decades of extreme Communism by depicting the monotony of having only one radio station to listen to, being surrounded by ubiquitous statues and images of dictators Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung, and choosing from a rather bland selection of restaurants and food.
In an ironic motif throughout the story, he carries around a copy of Orwell's 1984 that he brought with him and eventually gives to his unsuspecting guide. The reader is constantly reminded of connections between the society Orwell describes in his dystopian classic and the realities of life in present day North Korea.Read more ›
I think that's right, but also badly missing the point. If you are looking for a definitive account of the moral atrocities occurring in N Korea, then a Guy Deslisle graphic novel is not the place to look. This is a book about what it's like to be a foreign visitor in N Korea. It is a tourist's candid impressions of the people and places he encounters in a strange and strangely controlled city. But that doesn't make it lightweight or dismissive. Quite the opposite.
This book is even more poignant and informative than any "definitive account of moral atrocities" would be, precisely because of what it doesn't show you. It is plainly clear that Guy Deslisle is being selectively shown the best and most impressive parts of the country, and yet even those are fraught with signs of fragility and gloom, e.g., the giant pyramid on which work has been halted, leaving a "visibly rotting carcass," or the International Friendship Exhibition dug into the side of a mountain to withstand nuclear attack, built with marble walls but cheap plastic light switches. We are left to imagine what the other 99% of the country must be like.
Instead of giving us dry fact after dry fact, this book introduces us to real people in N Korea-- their fears, their joys, their perspectives. It helps us to understand N Korea by looking beyond the "moral atrocities" to the people who live there. And, in turn, it makes the atrocities more real.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Any coverage of civilian life in North Korea will be fascinating, and Guy Delisle's Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea doesn't challenge those expectations. Read morePublished 1 month ago by alaska
I really enjoyed reading this book, it gave a good view of what it is like to live in a totalitarian society and how the people act just to keep out of the way of the authorities. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Michelle M
What can be said about how alien North Korea seems to the Western visitor that hasn’t already been said? Read morePublished 2 months ago by MoseyOn
While the future of Pyongyang is uncertain, the NYTimes recently wrote an article about the Pyongyang's 1% calling it Pyonghattan. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Ben Hohne