Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea



❃ [EPUB] ✻ Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea By Barbara Demick ➜ – E17streets4all.co.uk Nothing to Envy follows the lives of six North Koreans over fifteen years—a chaotic period that saw the death of Kim Ilsung, the unchallenged rise to power of his son Kim Jongil, and the devastation Nothing to Envy follows the lives of six Envy: Ordinary MOBI î North Koreans over fifteen years—a chaotic period that saw the death of Kim Ilsung, the unchallenged rise to power of his son Kim Jongil, and the devastation of a farranging famine that killed onefifth of the population Taking us into a landscape most of us have never before seen, awardwinning journalist Barbara Demick brings to life what it means to be living under the most repressive totalitarian regime today—an Nothing to PDF \ Orwellian world that is by choice not connected to the Internet, in which radio and television dials are welded to the one government station, and where displays of affection are punished; a police state where informants are rewarded and where an offhand remark can send a person to the gulag for life Demick takes us deep inside the country, beyond the reach of government censors Through meticulous and sensitive reporting, we see her six subjects—average North Korean citizens—fall in to Envy: Ordinary PDF Í love, raise families, nurture ambitions, and struggle for survival One by one, we experience the moments when they realize that their government has betrayed them  Nothing to Envy is a groundbreaking addition to the literature of totalitarianism and an eyeopening look at a closed world that is of increasing global importance.Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

Barbara Demick is an American journalist Envy: Ordinary Envy: Ordinary MOBI î MOBI She is currently Beijing bureau chief of the Los Angeles Times She is the author of Logavina Street: Life and Death in a Sarajevo Neighborhood Andrews McMeel, Her next book, Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, was published by Spiegel GrauRandom House in December and Granta Books in Demick was correspondent for the Phila.

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea PDF/EPUB
  • Hardcover
  • 316 pages
  • Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea
  • Barbara Demick
  • English
  • 10 March 2017
  • 9780385523905

10 thoughts on “Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

  1. says:

    They don’t stop to think that in the middle of this black hole, in this bleak, dark country where millions have died of starvation, there is also love.

    A painfully human look at North Korea (mostly) through the eyes of defectors now living in South Korea or China.

    Demick peels back the layers of propaganda, parades and leader worship to expose the people and lives underneath. If you're anything like me, you'll find it hard not to be fascinated by this exceptionally secretive country and wonder what everyday life can really be like living in one of the strictest regimes on earth.

    Of course, even in the darkest places there are love stories, hopes, dreams and family dynamics. We see a young couple courting in secret over many years, a woman who loses everything during the devastating famine of the 1990s - a famine which killed anywhere between a few hundred thousand and several million people - and a man sent to a hard labor camp for petty crimes. Families of defectors, no matter how innocent, are rounded up and shipped off to camps that may as well be called death camps.

    Its was extremely interesting to get a look inside this closed country, and perhaps even more interesting to see the outside world through the eyes of those who escaped. I can't even imagine what it must be like to cross a border and discover that the world is nothing like you always believed.

    I recently really enjoyed the fictional Korean story in Pachinko, which begins before the country's division and during the Japanese colonization, so it was great to see the history that so intrigued me expanded upon here. For one thing, I had no idea that traditional dress for Korean women was a head-to-toe veil, not unlike the burka. There were lots of small facts like this that I found fascinating.

    Nothing to Envy reminds us of something important. That underneath all the craziness that is this regime and its deified leader, there are more than 20 million people just trying to feed their families, live their lives, and not get killed for it.

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  2. says:

    One thread of this riveting National Book Award finalist is a love story. Mi-san is an attractive girl from a family that does not have the right stuff, history-wise, her father having fought for South Korea in the war. They are considered “impure” by the North Korean government and society as a whole. Her prospects are only so-so. Jun-sang is headed to university in Pyongyang to study science. His future includes a good job, a membership in the party and a life of relative privilege. One enchanted evening, Jun, at age 15, sees her across a crowd at a local movie theater in the northeastern city of Chongjin, and is smitten. For the next ten years, they will dance a courtship ballet that is both endearing and horrifying.

    Dr. Kim Ji-eun is a sprite of a woman, a true believer in a system that allowed her to become a doctor. But in time she comes to feel differently. Learning that all her extra work gains her nothing from her boss. Working in a hospital that loses all it’s electricity, its’ running water, it’s supplies, watching scores of children die of starvation will do that to a person.

    Song Hee-Suk, or Mrs Song is another true believer in the North Korean way, volunteering for all sorts of party activities in addition to working full time and caring for her family. She embodies the entrepreneurial spirit here, attempting to put food on the table when there is no work. She keeps trying to start micro-small businesses, struggling mightily against the popular ethos that such activity is inherently wrong, selling all her family’s possessions for the money to start her enterprise.

    Nothing to Envy is a riveting, grim portrait of perhaps the most repressive nation on earth, a personification of H.G. Wells’ dark authoritarian nightmare. Barbara Demick is a big time foreign correspondent, for the LA Times since 2001. She became the Times’ Korea bureau chief, and has written much on life behind this particular bamboo curtain. She follows the lives of six North Koreans, all from the northeastern industrial city of Chongjin, and brings us their oral histories. Ultimately all of them find their way to South Korea. It is through their eyes that we see the reality of life in the North. Their stories continue once they have crossed the border, and their stories of adapting to such a strange new world are interesting, but the real core here is the images we get of life in North Korea.

    It is truly amazing to learn how complete was (and still is) the control of the authoritarian regime in North Korea, how effective the cradle-to-grave propaganda has been and how alarming the elevation of the Dear Leader to a god-like status. It is chilling to hear accounts of how the nation sank into famine, remarkable to learn what a doctor’s life entails, infuriating to learn of the lives of homeless orphans, or wandering swallows, as they are known.

    It is not at all surprising to see how neighbor eagerly turns in neighbor for thought-crimes. I mean we all went to school, and one can always count on there being those who seek advantage by undercutting others. But getting in trouble with one’s teacher is not quite the same as being transported to a slave labor camp, being marked for life as “impure,” being shunned or worse.

    I expect that most of us have a somewhat cartoonish image of North Korea, focusing on the mad king, sorry, party chairman, his dreams of nuclear power and the willingness of the North Korean people to believe all sorts of fantastical things about him. It merits knowing what the poor people of North Korea must endure. The horror there, the inhumanity, how the denial of reality affects real people, with real lives. It is no laughing matter.

    Demick also offers a very insightful look at similarities between those who have escaped the north and holocaust survivors, an apprehension of the qualities one must nurture in order to survive in extreme conditions, and she notes the collateral damage from defecting. The people she portrays in Nothing to Envy are as masterfully portrayed as characters in a great novel. We come to care about their travails, and get to see their flaws as well as their strengths. These are indeed the ordinary people promised in the books’ title, shown in an extraordinary way.

    There is indeed nothing to envy in North Korea, but it is important for us all to have some idea of what goes on there, if for no other reason than to be able to point to an example of how things shouldn’t be. Demick’s book will make you angry and it will make you sad. It should.

    P.S.
    There is an impressive bibliography at the end for this book for any who might be inspired to read about this place in more depth.

    =============================EXTRA STUFF

    2/13/12 - North Korea Agrees to Curb Nuclear Work; U.S. Offers Aid - The question is not raised in this New York Times article if any of the food aid will ever find its way to the general population or will be taken to feed the army and party officials

    6/14/13 - GR friend Jan Rice, in comment #8 below, posted on June 13, 2013, included a link to an AP story about NK, particularly how schools are still promoting hatred of Americans. I was reminded, although to a much lesser degree, of how how we were all taught to hate the dirty commies back in my school days. Here is that link, again. IN NORTH KOREA, LEARNING TO HATE US STARTS EARLY By Jean H. Lee

    9/18/17 - A riveting New Yorker Magazine article on the mindset in North Korea - must-reading, given the recent ratcheting up of tensions. Even a dotard could learn something here. - On the Brink - by Evan Osnos

    7/23/2018 - Fascinating tale in GQ of the American who was returned from NK imprisonment with brain damage. much on fact vs fiction in reportage of that - The Untold Story of Otto Warmbier, American Hostage - By Doug Bock Clark

  3. says:

    An amazing, unforgettable book about North Korea. Barbara Demick explores the most closed-off society in the world through the stories of six ordinary North Koreans who defect to South Korea beginning in the late 1990s. Through their stories, Demick covers a bit of everything (the pathological weirdness that was/is Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-Il and the cult of worship - and fear of reprisal - that made people cry harder at the former's death than they ever had in their lives, the role of a totalitarian government in the everyday lives of people, the deterioration of North Korea into blackouts/famine/starvation, South Korea's/China's reception of North Korean defectors) very skillfully without sensationalizing; the subject matter speaks for itself.



    Here are both moments of beauty (the reminiscences of two of the profiled North Koreans about how the blackouts at night allowed them to chastely walk and talk outside their village for hours at a time) and, more frequently, moments of horror (families deliberately winnowing down their members, i.e., starving everyone else to spare the children, who as the only surviving members of their families then became homeless begging kotjebi - 꽃제비 - literally swallows). As a new mother, I could not imagine being in a position where I could not provide enough food for my young toddler - thinking about all the orphaned kotjebi made me have to put down the book, pause, and collect myself before I could proceed. Not the only such moment.



    Demick also discusses the guilt and shame that many defectors have. One woman who left her children and ex-husband in North Korea mourns, I sacrified my babies for myself. A mother who defects with one daughter is never able to forgive herself because, following their defections, her other two daughters who were still in North Korea were arrested and presumably sent to a labor camp. Another woman, now in South Korea with its plenties and excesses, is haunted by her husband's last words before he died during the famine, Let's go to a good restaurant and order a nice bottle of wine.



    I was especially moved by this book. It is completely heartbreaking in many places. I, already a sentimental reader (in case you, dear Goodreads readers, haven't already ascertained as much), tend to get even more sentimental when I read about Korea. Moreover, and more relevantly, my dad is from North Korea, and I can't help but wonder about the fates of relatives I don't even know about. This book should have great appeal beyond my myopically sentimental lens, fortunately, as it is extremely well-written and compulsively readable and deserves to be widely read and discussed.

  4. says:

    There are few books like this written today: concise, well-researched, plainly yet effectively written, and free of hyperbole. This book is a very personal account of six lives in the failed state of North Korea. The level of deprivation and humiliation these people endure is heartbreaking. The book reads more like an outstanding piece of social anthropology than it does cut and dried journalism. The author is to be commended for her ability to get inside both the hearts and minds of the people she has interviewed.

    I think that Nothing To Envy is a landmark book, a study of a culture and political system gone horribly wrong, that will be read for decades. As the author notes, North Korea is the last of its kind, a state with an entrenched despotic, supposedly Marxist, leader who denies not only basic freedoms but also the basic provisions necessary to maintain any quality of life. Reading this book in the comfort of my own well heated home, I felt both pity for those that live in North Korea and anger for the inability of the rest of the world to do anything while North Korea's citizens starve to death. The impact of this book is both emotional and intellectual. I highly recommend this book to anyone concerned about the social welfare of people and the role that government plays in people's lives.

  5. says:

    The ordinary people whose lives are presented in this incredible book lead no ordinary lives. They survive against all odds, despite the totalitarian system which aims at supressing everything that is called normal: normal working conditions, normal education, normal shops, normal family bonds etc. etc. So far I have watched only several short documentaries on North Korea, now I have read a book which is not fiction. Written ten years ago, it is a collection of accounts by those fortunate who had courage and opportunity to flee the last truly totalitarian state. It is unimagonable that a state can have such a power over their citizens and is able to suppress a slightest thought of resistance.

  6. says:

    In the aftermath of the Korean war my mother's brother left an enigmatic note on his pillow before stepping out for school. He never returned and the family lamented his apparent suicide.

    A half century later a list of names is published in Koreas' national paper. Part of the warming relations between North and South Korea, it offered the chance for families separated by the border to connect. So far nearly 20 thousand Koreans have participated in face-to-face meetings. My uncle's name is there along with some briefly sketched details of the family tree. He is very much alive and living in North Korea. This was the first any of the family had ever heard from him.

    My mother eventually traveled to North Korea to meet with her brother. My uncle was wearing a gold watch and a thinning suit. He confided that they were provided by the government solely for the visit. Other Koreans reunited with long lost relations were at nearby tables. Many had brought gifts of linens, food and clothing. He quietly admitted that gifts were pointless as their intended recipients would probably never see them again.

    My mother never talked too much about the visit. After a lifetime apart what do you say? Her brother is relatively affluent by North Korean standards, a professor who has raised a large family. Still, his face was gaunt, his teeth stained and crooked. His hands trembled constantly.

    I thought about my uncle a lot while I was reading Nothing to Envy. In it author Barbara Demick pieces together the lives of 6 North Koreans who eventually defect to South Korea. It is an incredible and difficult read, especially the chapters outlining the devastating famine of the 1990's which claimed almost 10% of the population. The stories are riveting and framed beautifully. This isn't some dry recounting of facts outlining the poverty of North Korea but wondrously intertwined narratives that don't end with pat answers once they reach South Korea.

    Great read.

  7. says:

    A physician, possessing numerous years of education and selfless service to her people, comes upon a isolated farm in a dark field at twilight. The doctor is starving, malnourished and ravenous. She seeks crumbs, maybe a scrap of corn to eat. Slowly, she makes her way into a barn, musty with the odor of hay and equipment. She has not seen more than a handful worth of white rice in years. Indeed, white rice is a rare luxury in the world she comes from.

    Suddenly, she sees in the dark of the barn a gleam of a beaten metal bowl with cold lumps of glistening meat, surrounded by heaps of bright white grains. Could it be rice? Dear God, is that fatty pork? How could this be possible? Why would all this rich food be just lying here, in the middle of the floor of a dirty cold barn?

    Just then, she hears the dog.

    As Barbara Demick icily observes at this moment in the book, Dr. Kim now realized the truth: in China, dogs ate better than doctors did back in North Korea.

    It is a moment of epiphany, and one of six realizations that separate six defectors' lives from their existence in North Korea from their subsequent lives in the free world. It is almost ridiculous to think of China as a truly open and free society, but the constant suppression and fear of the North Korean regime makes it so for the residents that flee to the border. An interesting observation from this book and its collection of defectors' stories is that it wasn't the lack of freedom, or the lack of money, or even the lack of status that propelled people to defect from this state, but the wholesale lack of food. Without food rations, there simply was not any reason for people to stay at their assigned posts or cities - they simply drifted away, or plucked the surrounding hillsides clean of any grass or edible root, or with their last bit of strength, dared the dangerous borders to relative freedom.

    If you need something to refocus your appreciation for your life, no matter how flawed or unsatisfactory it may be right now: read this book. It will change the way you think about North Korea, and definitely the way you might look at your own problems. Your life isn't so bad after all, huh?

  8. says:

    This book was simultaneously a page-turner and hard as hell to read. I had trouble falling asleep last night because of it, and when I did I had some unsettling nightmares. This isn't a book I can read, write an oh that's nice, that definitely added to my life type of review and go about my day. This is some seriously skillful nonfiction. It calls to mind being fourteen and reading Wild Swans. There's a similar structure to both works; history of a country to get the big picture, and memoirs of individual experiences to personalize statistics and news bulletins. And, this is harder to quantify or describe, both books gave me a sick, horrified feeling, even as I felt like parts of my brain were lighting up with brand new information. Some of the best non-fiction makes a reader feel like they can connect seemingly disparate facts together, and history makes a little more sense, and you can't remain distant any longer.

    Straight off, I need to say that this is not tragedy porn. That's not why I felt so overwhelmed by this. Demick is respectful of the North Korean defectors that she interviews, and never ventures into the realm of the maudlin. The individual lives take center stage, illuminated by what we know of North Korean history. The reader isn't allowed to rest on their laurels. Capitalism doesn't make their lives 100% better when they escape, and pretty much right off the bat Demick clarifies that Nothing To Envy is not about oh those wacky North Koreans! Much of this book demonstrates how to brainwash an entire country into an entire ideology... as well as how, and when, the North Koreans discussed here realized they had been deceived. I was astonished by the ingenuity of every single one of the people profiled, both when it came to surviving the famine and when they had to escape. This book bring back individuality to a nation that's so often reduced to a horror story or a joke.

    And, yeah, to circle back to my opening paragraph... The sense of individuality in this book will stick with me. I'm completely overwhelmed by just how many lives have been snuffed out in the North Korean famine. So many people with stories akin to those featured in Nothing To Envy. Gone.

  9. says:

    Far from a dry accounting filled with historical detail, this is a look into the lives of six average North Koreans who eventually defect, giving investigative journalist Barbara Demick access to their stories. We are given a peek into what it is like to live under an extreme totalitarian regime. Children are taught to sing anthems of praise where they have nothing to envy in this world. They are taught that they live in the greatest place on earth, and they know so little of the outside world that they believe this to be true.

    Demick excels in humanizing the North Korean people. We know the regime is evil, but the people are not. As she gets inside their hearts and minds, we see that there is much more that binds humans together than sets us apart. These are ordinary people. But their lives are anything but ordinary. Their individual stories are touching. The famine of the '90s is covered, which killed upwards of millions of people. It’s difficult to describe the horrors and deprivation they endure(d) on a daily basis.

    Most defected out of desperation, not out of disloyalty. When they did so, their eyes were opened as they began to understand that everything they had been told was propaganda and a lie. The challenges continued as they learned to assimilate into a modern culture of which they knew nothing about. When one defector, a physician, realized that a bowl of rice and meat on the ground was for a dog, she was shocked that “dogs in China ate better than doctors in North Korea.”

    This is a must read for everyone. It left me heartsick over man's inhumanity to man, but it is not without hope. It renewed an appreciation and respect for the perseverance of the human spirit, gave me a new appreciation for our country, and put what I consider my 'problems' in perspective.

    The narrator of the audiobook is excellent, which, combined with compelling content, made for a riveting listen. I can't recommend this highly enough. It's been in my tbr for years. My son-in-law and my Goodreads friend Jenna recently read and recommended it, which was the incentive I needed to finally pick it up. I'm only sorry I waited so long.

  10. says:

    Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea


    photo
    Barbara Demick is an American author and journalist

    Our father, we have nothing to envy in the world. Our house is within the embrace of the Workers’ Party. We are all brothers and sisters. Even if a sea of fire comes toward us, sweet children do not need to be afraid, our father is here. We have nothing to envy in this world.
    Popular song taught to North Korean school children praising the Dear Leader
    ***********************************************

    Six years after its original publication, Barbara Demick’s remarkable work of investigative journalism remains a very compelling, reader-friendly account of what is like to live and escape from one of the most brutal and repressive states in the world.

    Reading Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, felt like stepping into a large-scale re-enactment of George Orwell's 1984. If somebody had intentionally set out to recreate the famous novel, they couldn't have done a better job than what this dystopian-like regime has become.

    The subtitle of the book might as well have been called “How to make it as a Dictator in the 21st Century”.
    For anybody that has such aspirations, this might be the best how-to manual available.
    Be aware though, as despotic regimes go, the Kim dynasty, with their 70-year ruling over the so-called Hermit Kingdom, is a tough act to follow.

    Here are some pointers on how to do it:

    • Foster a cult of personality that raises you to a God-like status allowing you to harness the power of faith, invoke religious sentiments among the people and manipulate them at your will.

    • Enforce a policy requiring that every household ostentatiously displays your photo. The Public Standards Police should make surprise visits to ensure strict compliance.

    • When a devastating famine hits your country due to your failed economic policies, allow that up to 2 Million or roughly 10% of your people die of hunger. The first ones to perish would be the sick, the children and the elderly.

    • Establish work labor camps that could manage as many as 200,000 political prisoners or the equivalent of 2% of your country’s population. Citizens might be taken to these camps for crimes as petty as failing to go to work.

    • Use any medium available to relentlessly deliver propaganda, especially to children, demonizing the foreign “bastards”, namely, America, Japan, and South Korea.

    • Use the threat of nuclear and biological weapons to coerce those same “foreign bastards” countries into providing billions of dollars in food aid to your country without any pre-conditions.

    • Talking about weapons, be willing to spend up to 25% of your country’s GDP (versus the average 5% used by most developed countries) to sustain your military army and infrastructure.

    • Make sure the population is blocked from getting access to any news or communications from the outside world. If they ever learn that their counterparts in the south have an income per capita 20 times higher than theirs, that your infant mortality is 7 times higher and that their life expectancy is at least 10 years longer, you could lose control over the people and who knows where that might lead.

    So this is how you attempt to control a country of 24 million people, who continue to be the victims of their leaders utopian Stalinist fantasies.

    North
    Chol (a pseudonym), a nine-year-old North Korean boy, shows a picture of the place where he was raised by his grandparents in North Korea- Photo by Katharina Hesse

    In interviews, Demick has mentioned that her motivation to write this book was to find answers to questions many of us have: What happens to people living in the most totalitarian of regimes? Do they lose their essential humanity? What were they thinking behind the blank stares of the video footage we saw of mass gymnastics or goose-stepping soldiers? Were these people anything like us?

    Nothing To Envy also gives the reader a condensed history of the Korean peninsula, how it got fractured and North Korea’s role as it relates to the major powers in the region, both with its allies (China and Russia) and its foes (Japan and South Korea).

    Primarily though, the book focuses on the plight of the North Korean people right after the economic collapse of the late 1990’s and the brutal famine that followed.

    Demick does a remarkable job at humanizing this story by introducing us to six North Koreans that fled the industrial city of Chongjin. There is even a love story, albeit one of the star crossed-lovers variety, as alas, a happy ending was not meant to be.

    The author portrays these men and women with profound respect and sensitivity and painstakingly re-creates their everyday lives in amazing detail. Inevitably, one by one realizes that their government has betrayed them and that all they’ve been told throughout their whole lives have been propaganda and lies.

    photo
    Hating starts early- North Korean children line up to view anti-U.S. propaganda posters

    One of the people we meet is Mi-ran, a sensible kindergarten teacher who is considered to have tainted blood because her father was born in South Korea.
    Hers is one of the most heartbreaking of all these stories. As an elementary teacher, she is expected to teach her pupils the blessings of being a North Korean, the best nation on earth, while she watches them die of starvation.

    Jun-sang, Mi-ran's boyfriend, has Japanese relatives that help supplement his family's income. This allows him to live a relatively privileged life. He attends one of the best universities in Pyongyang, and as part of an intellectual elite enjoys some small perks that include access to western literary classics such as Gone with the Wind and One Hundred Years of Solitude.

    North
    A 20-year-old refugee from North Korea in a farmhouse in northern China hides his identity- Photo by Katharina Hesse

    We also get to know Kim Ji-Eun, a 28-year-old pediatrician at a small district hospital who has been a lifetime staunch supporter of the North Korea’s Worker’s Party.
    She begins to question her loyalty to the party after her father dies during the famine and her superiors give orders that compromise her Hippocratic oath.

    The relentless search by ordinary citizens for food from any conceivable source - weeds, frogs, and insects - is a heartbreaking and constant theme of these stories. The accounts of Mi-Ran and Dr. Kim are particularly difficult to read because they involved starving children as well as the elderly.

    One of the most powerful scenes in the book happens after Doctor Kim, who has just crossed the river into China, bone-tired, starving and dripping wet stumbles into the courtyard of a farmhouse. She is confused to see a bowl of rice and meat on the ground, just an hour out of North Korea she realizes that dogs in China eat better than doctors in North Korea.

    North
    Kim Jeong-Ya (a pseudonym) a Chinese activist helps North Koreans defectors cross safely to China- Photo by Katharina Hesse

    The majority of people become defectors by crossing the Tumen River which divides the two countries. That is not an easy undertaking since the Chinese authorities monitor the border and routinely repatriate defectors back to North Korea.

    They also have to live with the reality that their escape may put the families they left behind in great danger as the government consistently retaliates by placing them in labor camps. The customary term is anywhere from six months to three years.

    Reading the accounts of the defectors seems to suggest that a great deal of North Koreans is privately very aware and cynical about the leadership of their country and that they only play along out of fear of repercussions.

    The
    The Tumen River - Photo by Katharina Hesse

    Nothing I’ve read here or from any other source, suggests that this regime will collapse anytime soon. But in recent years certain improvements have surfaced and the country has experienced something of an economic revival, at least by North Korean standards.

    This is mostly the result of the constant flow of information coming from China and South Korea that is making its way into the North.
    Over a million people now have mobile phones, many have personal computers (the caveat is that there's no internet access), there are department stores with foreign goods and fancy restaurants in Pyongyang and the government has decided to tolerate small farmer markets.

    I suspect that if you are a well-informed reader on North Korea issues, Nothing to Envy might not provide any significant amount of new information, if like me you are looking for a great introduction to this most secretive and fascinating of places, I would definitely recommend it.

    ***********************************************

    In 2014 PBS's Frontline produced a riveting documentary called Secret State of North Korea. I think it makes for a great companion to this book and it provides an updated picture of North Korea and the changes that have been taking place there in the last few years.

    You can find a link here. As of the date of this review the program is also available on Netflix.

    You can find the majority of the pictures on this review here.

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