Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea
This was a great read. Talk about eye-opening! The author is a journalist who spent several years living in South Korea, visiting North Korea, and interviewing defectors from North Korea. Her book weaves the personal histories of several people while giving historical context. I couldn't stop thinking about Orwell's 1984 as it has come to life in North Korea. I feel like I have a much better understanding of the communist agendas of Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-il, and the economic collapse of a country once thought to have 'succeeded' at communism. It was heartwrenching to read personal accounts of famine, starvation, and utter powerlessness of one's own life. <br /> The book was well-written and so interesting, I'm sure my husband grew a little tired of the 'reports' I felt compelled to give him... (Did you know they minimum height requirement of North Korea's army (5'3") was revoked because young men are not tall enough? The lack of nutrition nation-wide has left many a 20-year-old soldier looking more like an 11-year-old boy scout.)... The government's use of media, propaganda, and indoctrination to assert absolute control is both abhorrent and horrifying. Billboards proclaiming simply, 'Grow Taller!' or 'We like eating two meals a day!' and the informational meetings requiring everyday mandatory attendance are almost unfathomable to me. Electricity is scarce to non-existent and most citizens don't know the internet exists. Dictators project themselves as Gods to be worshipped and many citizens fall in line because there is no way to know anything different. The book is a couple years old, and times change quickly, but this has inspired me to do more of my own research and to both understand and CARE about what's happening half a world away.<br /> Do yourself a favor and pick this up. You'll be both entertained and educated, and you might just gain a fresh appreciation for the privilege it is to live your life as you do.