Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick
Published October 20, 2013
- Author Barbara Demick
I was intrigued by this book - a peek behind the closed nation of North Korea, by those who lived there and decided to leave. The disclaimer at the beginning naturally says that it’s hard to verify everything, given how little access to North Korea there is, but even if only half of it is true, it’s still an incredible eye-opener.
I must have harboured a little fascination with North Korea to have picked the book up in the first place, but each chapter only served to deepen my interest. I became one of those people that talks endlessly about a subject, regardless of whether the other people care or not. “But apparently in North Korea…” etc, etc.
The book takes its shape by following the lives of a handful of very different people - a couple from different sides of the tracks, a doctor, a patriotic and loyal older woman, a tearaway young boy. Through the prosperous times, to some serious hardship, a lack of technology, and a reliance on a failing regime, plus how their feelings towards their country changed and ultimately led to defection, I found the whole thing gripping. It was hard to read in places, as things get particularly tough during the famine, but a great insight to life behind the closed walls.