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Boogalou

Books, etc. About North Korea

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Boogalou

Since there's been a few scattered discussions over the forum recently on books about North Korea I thought I would start a thread so we could keep it all in the same place.

I'm almost done a new book about North Korea, just published in 2015.  It's called Under the same sky: from starvation in North Korea to salvation in America.  It's by a young man who was growing up during the famine of the 1990s and early 2000s. The book is really well written and the story is incredibly compelling.  I have more to say about it, but I want to wait until I am done for a full assessment.

So, what have you read or watched about North Korea lately?  I've got two more books from the library about North Korea that I am about to read so I will report on those ones as well!

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Waffle Time
OldFadedStar

I've read "Nothing to Envy", "Aquariums of Pyongyang" and "Escape from Camp 14" 

I found all of them quite interesting. 

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FundiesInParis

I've read: Escape From Camp 14

Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader: North Korea and the Kim Dynasty

Impossible State

Inside the Red Box: North Korea's Post-totalitarian Politics 

The latter two are a bit more policy heavy, and might not appeal as much to someone without a background in IR. And I've been meaning to read In Order to Live, but I haven't got around to it yet.

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Wine time!
nokidsmom

I am reading Only Beautiful, Please: A British Diplomat in North Korea, observations from a diplomat during his posting from 2006 to 2008.   Gives a good overview of life in the DPRK for both its citizens and foreigners living there but doesn't dive heavily into policy or the more distasteful aspects of the regime.

http://www.amazon.com/Only-Beautiful-Please-British-Diplomat/dp/1931368252

Edited by nokidsmom
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nausicaa

Nothing to Envy is also really well done as an audio book if someone is looking for something to listen to during work or their commute. 

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zebra #13

I can't think of a place on earth where it would be more terrible to be.  The University I taught at in China had four North Korean exchange students, and a more miserable terrified group of people I have never known.  They went everywhere in these sort of glued to each other pairs so there would *always* be a reporter. . . .  The other foreign students discovered by accident that just saying "Hi!" in cheerful manner would panic whichever half of the pair who'd been so greeted--and set up for reporting.  They stopped--it wasn't a game one could enjoy, thus further isolating them. 

You wanted so much to help or comfort them, but any move in that direction only made their situation worse.  But watching them was agony.

 

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samurai_sarah

Not a book, and possibly not entirely fitting, but there's a good documentary about North Koreans who came to study in East Germany (then socialist), started families, and were then forced to return to North Korea, leaving their families behind. It's mainly about the families left behind, trying to make contact.

As far as I know, it's only available in German. The filmmaker, Sung-Hyung Cho, is South Korean by birth, German by choice. The documentary is called "Verliebt, verlobt, verloren" (in love, engaged, lost): http://www.verliebtverlobtverloren.de/#trailer

Background: Like Germany used to be, Korea is a divided nation. West Germany supported South Korea, East Germany supported North Korea. Before North Korea clamped down, they sent students to East Germany. Suddenly, they recalled everyone, and uh, clamped down. A total of five North Korean students managed to flee to West Germany (I have sources, but am too lazy to look them up right now). The rest had to go back and weren't allowed any contact.

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anniebgood

The Orphan Masters Son by Adam Johnson. Very interesting tale about the upper echelons and how they kidnapped Japanese women for pleasure hotels. 

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Aggravated
keen23

VICE on HBO did an episode called "The Hermit Kingdom"

Netflix has The Propaganda Game

I've read the following books: A Kim Jong-Il Production: The Extraordinary True Story of a Kidnapped Filmmaker, His Star Actress, and a Young Dictator's Rise to Power by Paul Fischer

This is Paradise! by Hyok Kang

 

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lawlifelgbt

North Korea Undercover. A British guy went on a tour while he was actually a journalist, with a group of students from London. Mixes his trip with defector interviews and talking to foreigners who had lived, and even been imprisoned, there.

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anniebgood
On February 10, 2016 at 8:57 PM, purple_summer said:

snipxxxxxxxx
. Also Without you there is no us by Suki Kim.

1


This was a really interesting read. A journalist undercover at an university for the high level officials sons to learn English. They were there as members of a religious group and were watched all the time. The teachers were even taken to church by the school officials. The description of the country as beaten down and joyless came through. 

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DugFan

I second the vote for the audio version of Nothing to Envy.  I found myself having to drag myself out of my car... it really was riveting!  Some books I just have to read and can't do the audio, but in this case I loved the audio.

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awkwardblackchick

They may not be books but here is an interesting 3-part documentary about how creepy North Korea really is.

part 1

part 2

part 3

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Quivering Uterus

Escape from North Korea, by Melanie Kirkpatrick.  It was featured on c-span's Book Channel. A true story about a boy who managed to escape and now has been brought to America by the Author. It includes his coming to a new safer country and how he is adjusting with that difference, both culturally and economically. The boy is now a college student. He was on the show as well. Excellent.

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FaustianSlip

For documentaries, there are three by the same group of documentarians that I highly recommend. At least a couple were on Netflix, not sure if they still are:

The Game of Their Lives - about the North Korean soccer team in the 1964 World Cup, who made it to the knockout stages, I believe, in spite of having basically zero expected chance of doing so.

Crossing the Line - a fascinating documentary that tracks what happened to a number of U.S. soldiers who crossed the DMZ and defected to the North in the '60s.

State of Mind - follows two young girls as they prepare for that year's Mass Games.

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Rubaiyat
On February 19, 2016 at 6:43 PM, awkwardblackchick said:

They may not be books but here is an interesting 3-part documentary about how creepy North Korea really is.

part 1

part 2

part 3

I got this far in the thread, and went straight to y.outube to watch this.  It's one of the few NK documentaries Mr. Rubai and I hadn't seen.  Thanks!!

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