Daily Archives: September 16, 2010

Inside North Korea

NOTHING TO ENVY by Barbara Demick

by Barbara Demick, author of Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea (Random House Trade Paperback, 2010), 2010 Winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction

I am delighted to tell you about my book Nothing to Envy because I wrote it with students in mind. I was, at the time, on a fellowship at Princeton University where I also taught an undergraduate journalism course called “Covering Repressive Regimes.” My students were curious about North Korea, a country they knew almost nothing about.

When I started telling them the stories—about a country where televisions and radios were locked on government propaganda, where you couldn’t travel to the next town without a permit, where you were required to wear the portrait of the founder Kim Il Sung at all times on your clothing and that you celebrated the birthdays of the leadership rather than your own—the students were incredulous. It was not that they doubted my word; they were unable to grasp that a state as repressive as this one could persist into the 21st Century.

Born in the mid-1980s, they didn’t remember the Berlin Wall or the Soviet Union. Continue reading

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