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Nothing to Envy: Real Lives in North Korea

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Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea - Barbara Demick, book reviewEvery month I read a book which I would be unlikely to choose myself. Why, you ask? For my reading group. We all take turns making suggestions, and while you can see patterns in what some of us suggest, occasionally there is a book which knocks me sideways out of surprise. Nothing to Envy is one of those books.

Written by journalist Barbara Demick, Nothing to Envy: Real Lives in North Korea is a collection of true stories about life in the country under the regimes of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, told by defectors who have left North Korea. Demick opens by discussing what we know of the country, which is really very little – it is in her introduction that she mentions the fact that North Korea is a “black hole” on satellite photos of Asia at night, a fact which I hadn’t realised and which captivated me.


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