Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader: North Korea and the Kim Dynasty
Under different circumstances, North Korea could be the subject of a Marx Brothers satire, with the elements of a pompous, ego-driven patriarch, a worshipful population, and a general aura of fantasy and illusion. But North Korea has a superbly equipped million-man army and an expanding nuclear weapons program. So this comprehensive examination of this totalitarian society and the two men who have dominated it is often terrifying. For a quarter century, Martin has covered North Korea while...more
My primary criticism of this book is that Martin didn't stay focused on one project. He starts off with a tertiary source historical account of North Korea since World War II. That's fine, and he adopts a very objective tone, citing arguments on both sides of many unanswered questions (at least in the West) about North Korea's policies and leaders. We then shift into defectors' narratives, along the lines of Nothing to Envy: Ordi...more
As far as the nit-picking:
- I don't usually call for books to be shorter, but this one could have used a bit of trimming. I certainly wanted to read interviews with defectors, but there were so many of them that it started to become repetitive.
- I tend to like my big nonf...more
Regardless of whether you know/have an interest in Korea/Asia, the details it discusses on a closed, hermetic regime is a fascinating read
It's also a pretty long book; the author has a good voice and rarely drags his feet, but it can still get a little dry. Still, there was a lot of...more
Honestly I don’t know what to make of this book, the first time I saw this book I was so eager to read it, and when I read it I felt like ‘meh~’. Then the more I read the book the more I regret the choice. I don’t know, maybe this is more because I’m too lazy to grasp the book or the writing just suck so bad. I mean, compared to Victor Cha’s The Impossible State this book sucks so bad. I just couldn’t ke...more
Journalists write books based on interviews with liars. Historians write based on unreliable archives. In the case of North Korea, it is impossible to write history and one must rely on journalism.
Writing history on communist regimes is next to impossible. All forms of media are heavily censored. Statistics are falsified. Internal discussions amongst politicians are never documented. What journalists can do is interview defec...more
Martin begins his book around roughly 1900 with early history of Kim Hyong-jik, the father of KIm Il-sung then proceeds with the history of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il. From there, the book bounces around from defector testimony of daily life, politics, matters of economy, and daily troubles of North Koreans from peasants to the elite. The reader is bound to l...more
Much like William Shirer from "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich", Martin is his best when he lets the event...more
It is 700+ pages of small font plus another 100+ of footnotes.
The book is written by an American journalist who has been to North Korea four times since 1979, and has lived much of that time in Asia. I chose this book (not having noted the length...) because I wanted to understand more about the Korean conflict, about the Korean war and how North Korea became so isolated. I was also interested in learning more about life under the K...more
The details of the Kim's regime are vivid, though the interviews with defe...more
Simply put, there is no adequate base of academic works from which to write a comprehensive political history of North Korea. So Mr. Martin should be forgiven for quoting and being less than successful at dissecting the alternate-histories written and disseminated by the regime. Similarly, Mr. Martin should be forgiven...more
But it's always difficult to tell the history of another people and culture. Martin struggles with whether he wants to remain old-school (detached, separated, impartial) or if...more