Hello everyone. I have a bit of a confession to make. I love to read about North Korea. It's brutal and a little bit heartbreaking at times but I find the country so fascinating and I want to know everything I can about it. I find it so strange and weird that a country so oppressive still exists in the modern world. It's one thing reading about concentration camps in WW2 books and thinking 'how did they get away with that' but reading about what is happening right now North Korea is extremely humbling.
Escape From Camp 14 by Blaine Harden - This is probably the most popular book about North Korea. It tells the story of the only man to have escaped from Camp 14, one of North Korea's most brutal camps for political prisoners. Shin was born in the camp and escaped when he was a young man. He then escaped via China to North Korea and I think he is currently living in America. This is a really weird one because it shows you just how much the regime there alienates people. Despite all that he's been through, it's very hard to like Shin. He told on his mother and brother because they were planning on escaping and they were executed because of this. Then Shin and his father were both tortured because the camp guards believed they knew more. It shows just how much they are dehumanised and it's extremely sad. It's humbling and makes you really appreciate what you have.
Nothing To Envy by Barbara Demick - This is my favourite book about North Korea simply because I found it to give me the most insight into everyday life there. Barbara Demick focused on a town called Chongjin which is north of Pyongyang and interviewed defectors from this area. You get to know the stories of loads of different people from different walks of life. For example, one girl is a doctor and one is the daughter of a poor miner. It's interesting to see how regular people live in North Korea as often you only really hear the horror stories. Don't get me wrong, their lives are no cake walks either. I wrote a whole review of this book which you can read here.
The Aquariums Of Pyongyang by Kang Chol-Hwan - This is a little bit like a combination of the other two. The narrator in this novel did spend some time in a political camp but it wasn't as severe a camp as Shin. Kang was sent to the camps as a child because of something his grandfather did. Him and his family spent a few years in the camp before they were released. This novel really goes into the process of escaping to China and then getting from there to South Korea. China have a deal with North Korea that if they find any North Koreans living in China they'll deport them so defectors aren't 'safe' until they land on South Korean soil.
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