Book Review: Nothing to Envy

I recently read Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick.  This came recommended to me by a fellow expat in Daegu.  For anyone interested in North Korean culture, this is a must-read.  Demick follows the lives of six real North Korean defectors in a compelling, human way.  The book is not about politics as much as about people, living similar lives as those of friends and family.

Even though my own life in Korea is nothing like the lives of people in this book, I wanted to read it to understand more about South Korean culture.  South Korea truly believes in and desires reunification of the two Koreas.  I also wanted to learn more about the elusive North, and the personal stories speak volumes where the statistics fall flat.  I recommend this book to anyone interested in different cultures.  Just be warned, it’s not exactly a happy book – North Korea is a police state that denies its citizens basic rights and sometimes even food.  Yet North Koreans are resourceful – unbelievably so.

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