Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader: North Korea and the Kim Dynasty
I do not think it'll be the same with North Korea, however. For out there, they have the same type of religions as the Pope. If Christians have the triumvir ...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
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
The main impression that Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader gav ...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
It is so informative. It is so deep in its delving into the Kim dynasty in North Korea. But it takes so long to read!!
For me it is hard to believe and fathom that there is a place on this planet where information is controlled, where people are thrown into prison for random remarks about the leadership or even about daily life. A place where people and their families are put into prison for life, for no crime. Where people are not paid for ...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
The author definitely did his research, especially into the era of Kim Il-sung, and it's interesting to see the large contrasts in leadership and governance between Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il. This in a sense was quite unexpected, as we tend to get the impression that the both leaders operated and acted in a similar fashion when this really wasn't the case at all. I also appreciated the fact that he made an effort to reduc ...more
There were a few things that stuck out to me the most. First, the rations. Almost everyone knew the exact amount of food, down to the grain of rice, they had consumed. When you are starving, I imagine you do know the exact amount of food available to you. The more affluent defectors didn't know exactly how much food they'd eaten, just that it had been enough.
The defectors' stories really are the best part of this book. There are ...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