logo
Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: north-korea
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
review 2016-10-13 18:03
In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom by Yeonmi Park
In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom - Yeonmi Park

I appreciate Park telling her story and including how hard it was for her to do so. It can be something that we miss sometimes when people write memoirs that not everyone has a story that they are comfortable with everyone knowing. Sometimes we have things that we'd rather keep hidden about ourselves and Park definitely relates that feeling. She includes the shame she felt at different times and her paths to overcoming it and the times when she didn't. She gives us her story so that we can understand the plight of those who share her circumstances but that often go unheard. 

I appreciate that she didn't get into the gory details. She discusses being raped and beaten (sexual violence being the most prominent trigger in this book), but she doesn't go into detail about how it happened. It's selfish of me to appreciate that but I do. This is not a comfortable book to read, but it's a necessary one and I get the impression that she didn't want to relive the details any more than I wanted to hear about them. But this didn't keep her from sharing what happened, she just laid it out there.

The other thing to appreciate about this is that when we hear the way violence happens, we sometimes miss what it is. I know it sounds ridiculous, but it's possible to describe a beating or rape without using those two words and I feel like books that do that can miss something very important. They miss that these terms are used for actions that happen in a multitude of circumstances and are not designed for use for the perpetrator. Park says that she was raped and we don't miss it underneath the coercion that was used against her. The ability to name what has happened to you and not just describe the way it happened instead is powerful. It erases any idea that it could have been something else. It makes it clear to the reader that there is no question as to what happened and that the way it happened is less important than that it happened. To me, it was pretty powerful way to approach discussing that part of her story. 

I appreciate that she doesn't out others or tell their stories.

I appreciate that she admits to having mixed feelings about people in her life, even those that trafficked or helped her. 

I appreciate describing the unusual relationship she has with religion between her North Korean upbringing and the missionaries she met. 

I appreciate the in-depth description of what it was like to live in North Korea as a child and all the ways that she was taught to think and to be a loyal subject.

It's odd to say that I liked a book about such topics but Park made it easy to read and relate to. While it would be better to live in a world where these things didn't happen anymore, I appreciate that this book is out there to give an understanding of what it is like to go through all of this, to have to live with it and to try to get beyond it. It is essential for us to understand that this happens and how it happens in order to begin to work to eradicate it. Park knows this and even explains that this was a driving force behind her writing the book. So, yeah, I like the book. It's written well and it's important for us to read.

I wouldn't recommend it for high school or young adults because of the content, despite that she was in this age group during most of the book. I'd recommend it for anyone at or above college age, especially those who are working to understand the way the world around them works. In Order to Live is for feminists who wish to reach out internationally and for aspiring human rights activists. It is for missionaries and aid workers who will probably run into women and girls who have been trafficked. 

Like Reblog Comment
review 2016-07-28 00:00
Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea
Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea - Barbara Demick
DNF at 55%

It is a good book if you want to have an insight into a sick political system. That's unique in many ways. It's well written and the author knows the topic from the insider view.
I've never been a non-fiction reader, and the fact that I came so far speaks actually for the book.
My mistake was to put it aside, and then I totally lost my interest in it.
But my hubby is reading it now, and he keeps quoting the most "unbelievable" passages, that means actually that he disturbs my reading continuously I am reading it with him further and keep shaking my head in disbelief.

Because it is very difficult to believe that this country is not an utopia or a result of a crazy fantasy, but a sad reality.

You'll be astonished about ordinary lives in this country. Nothing to envy.



Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2016-05-09 15:48
So Interesting, Infuriating and Heartbreaking
My Holiday in North Korea: The Funniest/Worst Place on Earth - Wendy E. Simmons

What a dangerous, fascinating and unhappy place to visit.
This American Imperialist found some of this story funny but mostly it was sad. The people are so controlled, and manipulated that it broke my heart. The brain washing of the people is heart wrenching. The book was written with a sense of humor so it wasn't dark and gloomy but certain aspects hit me hard. It is very hard for me to see anyone suffer and be controlled.
The bathroom drama had to be the funniest thing in the book. She stayed dehydrated so she wouldn't have to use them any more than she had to. How this great leader trio, yes trio, long story, thought they could get away with be so superior without running water, toilet paper and the need for discussions just to use one is crazy. Oh the discussions, with any slight adjustment came a discussion. Everything about the visit was over the top looney-ville. The whole show they put on for the world visitors is crazy time, Twilight Zone acting.
This is one travel location I have zero interest in visiting. I saw more of the country through Ms. Simmons eyes than I ever expected to. I was worried for her safety, worried for her handlers, her driver, that at any moment they would do or say the wrong thing. I couldn't put this book down I finished it in one day. My last thought was that I am so glad to be considered an American What a dangerous, fascinating and unhappy place to visit.
This American Imperialist found some of this story funny but mostly it was sad. The people are so controlled, and manipulated that it broke my heart. The brain washing of the people is heart wrenching. The book was written with a sense of humor so it wasn't dark and gloomy but certain aspects hit me hard. It is very hard for me to see anyone suffer and be controlled.
The bathroom drama had to be the funniest thing in the book. She stayed dehydrated so she wouldn't have to use them any more than she had to. How this great leader trio, yes trio, long story, thought they could get away with be so superior without running water, toilet paper and the need for discussions just to use one is crazy. Oh the discussions, with any slight adjustment came a discussion. Everything about the visit was over the top looney-ville. The whole show they put on for the world visitors is crazy time, Twilight Zone acting.
This is one travel location I have zero interest in visiting. I saw more of the country through Ms. Simmons eyes than I ever expected to. I was worried for her safety, worried for her handlers, her driver, that at any moment they would do or say the wrong thing. I couldn't put this book down I finished it in one day. My last thought was that I am so glad to be considered an American Imperilist

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2016-03-05 19:06
The Girl with Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee
The Girl with Seven Names - Hyeonseo Lee,John David Mann

It’s been awhile since I have been this riveted by a book. And this isn’t even a novel, but a memoir! But then, a jaded reader like me can often sense where the plot of a novel will go, but in real life, anything can happen.

Hyeonseo Lee was born in North Korea, and the first third of this book traces her parents’ love story and her childhood in the world’s most isolated country. It is not the misery memoir you might expect on reading “North Korea”: the author’s family, while without political power, has a relatively high social status due to her grandparents’ communist credentials, and her mother’s black-market trading means they never go hungry. Much of Lee’s childhood plays out in Hyesan, a city just across a shallow river from China, and at age 17 – for reasons best summarized as “she was 17” – she decides to cross the river, just for a few days, to see life on the other side. This is the beginning of an epic journey for Lee and her mother and brother, through China, Laos and finally South Korea.

I think of this book as an adventure story, even though the second 2/3 of the book span more than a decade, because it turns out there are few safe places for North Korean defectors. Lee spends years in China, where she could be deported home at any moment if her true identity is discovered (hence her use of several names). She ultimately learns that, compared to most defectors, her journey is relatively easy, but it seems harrowing to me – and the more so when, years later, she returns to bring her family out. This is a fast-paced book (especially after the first third), full of dialogue and immersion in its settings.

But it also feels like a very honest book. I would expect a North Korean defector with an English-language publisher to feel pressure to sensationalize her story of life in North Korea, and to portray escape from that country as unmitigated triumph. But the author’s and her family’s experiences are much more complex. While there’s plenty to dislike about North Korea, it’s a world whose rules they understand. On leaving, they lose home and family, and their nerve-wracking journey leads them to a foreign country where they are considered second-class citizens, struggling to make ends meet with menial jobs, since a North Korean education is worthless in South Korea. By the end of the book, the reader can understand why they all, at different times, want to go back. Lee also writes honestly about her feelings of guilt: she makes some ill-considered decisions, and at times hurts other people; but with her limited choices and little support, it’s hard to blame her. It isn’t all hardship, though. The family’s bonds are strong, and they forge ahead and find help in some unexpected places.

This isn’t a literary memoir and while the characters are well-defined, I don’t find them especially memorable. Nevertheless, I had a wonderful time reading this book, blowing through most of it in one day, during which I was more or less glued to its pages. It is exciting, eye-opening, immersive and a great read.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2016-03-01 23:24
Pyongyang: Journey in North Korea by Guy Delisle
Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea -

I was at the library today to pick up a couple of graphic novels for my son, when I came upon this little gem. I've always been curious and strangely fascinated about life in North Korea. I have watched several Youtube videos that were quite interesting, so when I saw this, I just had to check it out.

 

Guy Delisle is a French-Canadian cartoon animator who got to go to North Korea on a 2 month work visa to work on the animation for a children's cartoon show. In this graphic novel, he presents his trip to this country, showing with some humor and wit, the bleak horror that is living in a totalitarian government.

 

Here is a sample:

 

 

At one point, Guy asks his guide, "Where are all the handicapped people?" and his guide replies, "There are none...we are a very homogenous nation. All North Koreans are born strong, intelligent and healthy."  Yikes! makes you wonder.

 

4 stars and recommended for those who want a peek behind the curtain.

 

 

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?