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Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

4.43  ·  Rating details ·  51,468 Ratings  ·  6,267 Reviews
Nothing to Envy follows the lives of six North Koreans over fifteen years—a chaotic period that saw the death of Kim Il-sung, the unchallenged rise to power of his son Kim Jong-il, and the devastation of a far-ranging famine that killed one-fifth of the population.

Taking us into a landscape most of us have never before seen, award-winning journalist Barbara Demick brings
Hardcover, 316 pages
Published December 29th 2009 by Spiegel & Grau
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Silvia Cachia Mugen, you WILL UNDERSTAND the book. I didn't know anything, or not much about North Korea, and it was an eye opening book, with beautiful albeit…moreMugen, you WILL UNDERSTAND the book. I didn't know anything, or not much about North Korea, and it was an eye opening book, with beautiful albeit painful narrations of several people and families through the years. The writer is very clear and writes with skill, I couldn't stop listening to it (I got it on audio).(less)
Lena Nope, it is not a travel guide, and moreover it tells you about places in the country where you would not come to as a regular tourist.

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Emily May
Jul 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, 2017
They don’t stop to think that in the middle of this black hole, in this bleak, dark country where millions have died of starvation, there is also love.

A painfully human look at North Korea (mostly) through the eyes of defectors now living in South Korea or China.

Demick peels back the layers of propaganda, parades and leader worship to expose the people and lives underneath. If you're anything like me, you'll find it hard not to be fascinated by this exceptionally secretive country and wonder w
Will Byrnes
Mar 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
One thread of this riveting National Book Award finalist is a love story. Mi-san is an attractive girl from a family that does not have the right stuff, history-wise, her father having fought for South Korea in the war. They are considered “impure” by the North Korean government and society as a whole. Her prospects are only so-so. Jun-sang is headed to university in Pyongyang to study science. His future includes a good job, a membership in the party and a life of relative privilege. One enchan ...more
Dec 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Shirley by: Sarah Bookbinder
An amazing, unforgettable book about North Korea. Barbara Demick explores the most closed-off society in the world through the stories of six "ordinary" North Koreans who defect to South Korea beginning in the late 1990s. Through their stories, Demick covers a bit of everything (the pathological weirdness that was/is Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-Il and the cult of worship - and fear of reprisal - that made people cry harder at the former's death than they ever had in their lives, the role of a total ...more
Feb 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
There are few books like this written today: concise, well-researched, plainly yet effectively written, and free of hyperbole. This book is a very personal account of six lives in the failed state of North Korea. The level of deprivation and humiliation these people endure is heartbreaking. The book reads more like an outstanding piece of social anthropology than it does cut and dried journalism. The author is to be commended for her ability to get inside both the hearts and minds of the people ...more
David Yoon
Aug 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
In the aftermath of the Korean war my mother's brother left an enigmatic note on his pillow before stepping out for school. He never returned and the family lamented his apparent suicide.

A half century later a list of names is published in Koreas' national paper. Part of the warming relations between North and South Korea, it offered the chance for families separated by the border to connect. So far nearly 20 thousand Koreans have participated in face-to-face meetings. My uncle's name is there
Oct 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: political
A physician, possessing numerous years of education and selfless service to her people, comes upon a isolated farm in a dark field at twilight. The doctor is starving, malnourished and ravenous. She seeks crumbs, maybe a scrap of corn to eat. Slowly, she makes her way into a barn, musty with the odor of hay and equipment. She has not seen more than a handful worth of white rice in years. Indeed, white rice is a rare luxury in the world she comes from.

Suddenly, she sees in the dark of the barn a
یک کتاب از هر کشور: ۱.کره شمالی
Political Location Map of North Korea

ترجمه شده به نام "افسوس نمی خوریم" نشر تندیس

اگر فکر می کنید کتاب ۱۹۸۴ جورج اورول خیلی تخیلی و دور از ذهن نوشته شده
اگر فکر می کنید که جای بدی به دنیا اومدید
اگر فکر می کنید که مردم کره شمالی ربات های راضی ای هستند که در عکس ها می بینید
و اگر از قحطی و فاجعه ای که به بار میاره هیچ تصوری جز گرسنگی ندارید
باید این کتاب رو بخونید

شش فرد کاملا متفاوت داستان زندگی و فرار خودشون از بسته ترین کشور جهان رو با جزییاتی توضیح میدن که در طول کتاب می تونی در کره شمالی مسافر باشی. نظا
Nov 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book was simultaneously a page-turner and hard as hell to read. I had trouble falling asleep last night because of it, and when I did I had some unsettling nightmares. This isn't a book I can read, write an "oh that's nice, that definitely added to my life" type of review and go about my day. This is some seriously skillful nonfiction. It calls to mind being fourteen and reading Wild Swans. There's a similar structure to both works; history of a country to get the big picture, and memoirs o ...more
Iris P
Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

 photo Barbara Author 2.jpg-20130212_zpszoptyjca.jpg
Barbara Demick is an American author and journalist

"Our father, we have nothing to envy in the world. Our house is within the embrace of the Workers’ Party. We are all brothers and sisters. Even if a sea of fire comes toward us, sweet children do not need to be afraid, our father is here. We have nothing to envy in this world."
Popular song taught to North Korean school children praising the Dear Leader

Ahmad Sharabiani
Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, Barbara Demick
عنوان: افسوس نمیخوریم - زندگی مردم عادی در کره شمالی؛ نویسنده: باربارا دمیک؛ مترجم: حسین شهرابی؛ مینا جوشقانی؛ تهران، تندیس، 1393؛ در 414 ص؛ شابک: 9786001821349؛
همه بسیار از دولت کره ی شمالی شنیده ایم و شنیده ایم چه تنگناها و فشارهای باورنکردنی و احمقانه برای مردمانش میسازد. اما از خود مردم، از زندگی عادی مردم در این دیکتاتوری (مزرعه ی حیوانات گونه) کمتر میدانیم. مردم کره ی شمالی چطور عاشق میشوند؟ کمبودهای غذایی و قحطیها را چگونه تاب
Apr 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone interested in what happens on our globe
This book is a must read — an absolute MUST READ! It is inexcusable not to be informed about what has been going on in North Korea. What we hear on the news is just simply not enough.

There are great reviews of this book on Goodreads. So I won’t elaborate about the contents of this book.

What I would like to do is compare The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (in short DPRK, or just simply North Korea) to Hitler’s Third Reich.

Upfront: The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is just as much
On December seventeenth in 2011, Kim Jong-il has died. Known to the world as the supreme leader of the world's most closed society, the "hermit kingdom" which encompasses the northern part of the Korean Peninsula, he has received the posthumous titles of the Eternal General Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea and Eternal Chairman of the National Defence Commission. His death has been mourned by the population in a dramatic and uncontrolled way, with people crying helplessly and expressing t ...more
Michael Gerald
Jan 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you thought that George Orwell's satires Animal Farm and 1984 are just works of fiction, think again. Look at a map and find North Korea. That's a present-day, real-life Animal Farm.

Barbara Demick's book, Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, gives us a peek of a spot of hell here on Earth. Based mostly on interviews with 6 North Koreans who defected to South Korea and from the author's own experience, this book takes the reader into an often difficult read of how North Koreans are
Aug 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Correct, 4 stars. I know, I know, I don't give stars but I've decided that when I have little to say or add to the many superior reviews of a book, perhaps the stars and a few words from me will suffice.

I have been meaning to read something, anything about North Korea for some time now. With the strife between our countries it seems paramount now. What better than to hear personal stories from the people who live there to give me a better understanding of mindset?

Though Barbara Demick's book wa
Apr 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Caroline by: Shelley
Shelves: 5-star-books, world
North and South Korea at night

Marvellous. I would say a must read.

This book has several threads....

Firstly it discusses the general idiosyncrasies of life in North Korea under the guru gaze of Kim il-sung and then Kim Jong-il. Think Gulliver's Travels mixed with Alice in Wonderland, then give it a good shake.... I could hardly believe what I was reading. It's another world, and not in a good way.

Secondly, it follows the lives of several people who ultimately defect to South Korea. These people give us great insight into l
"It is not easy for somebody who has escaped a totalitarian country to live in the free world. Defectors have to rediscover who they are in a world that offers endless possibilities. Choosing where to live, what to do, even which clothes to put on in the morning is tough enough for those of us accustomed to choices. It can be utterly paralyzing for people who've had decisions made for them by the state their entire lives."

These are the stories of North Korean defectors: people who risked everyth
Zöe Yu
Sep 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: korean
This is an incredible book! I rarely cry for books though am a greedy reader. "Nothing to Envy" makes me cry many times. I can't stop reading it.

I never try to understand North Korea, for Chinese people like me, North Korea is ignored. We are proud of our market and economy, meanwhile making jokes of North Korea partner. But I don't know North Korea people live in such a condition in 1990s, when I was a troubled teenager.

Some of the stories sound familiar, yes, it happened in China and CCCP bef
Jan 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How can any book about North Korea and its people not be fascinating? This one is a composite tale of six people who defected from this very bizarre country and were interviewed at length, off and on for a period of years. Because I read a surreal work of fiction by Adam Johnson called The Orphan Master's Son, a novel that was very well researched (and which I highly recommend), there were probably not as many surprises for me as for another reader who knows even less about North Korea.

Lisa Vegan
I started reading this book as a buddy read with a Goodreads friend, but she decided it wasn’t the right book at the right time for her, so I continued on alone, grateful that it had been her suggestion and I got it off my to read shelf, and I’m so glad that I did.

There is a helpful map and I love maps in books, though I wish it had been even more heavily labeled as many places were mentioned didn’t appear on it. I also appreciated the photos. Each chapter started with one photo, though I wish t

The subtitle is “Ordinary Lives in North Korea,” but “Extraordinary Lives in North Korea” may be more fitting. Author Barbara Demick chose to approach the topic of North Korea smartly--by interviewing at length a handful of North Korean defectors from various walks of life. Actually, “interviewing” feels inaccurate. She presented the kinds of intimate details exchanged between confidants. North Korea is unlike any country on Earth, and the subjects of this book are very unlike t
Jan 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Very engaging look at North Korea. You hear so many stories about what happens there but book really brought everything to the front. I have tried to read another book somewhat on North Korea and just could not finish it. Nothing to Envy kept me enthralled from the very beginning. It is hard to believe the things that went on in the country especially in the times we live in today. It is a heart-breaking read but an eye opening one also. Not to be missed.
North Korea reminds me of the old kingdom of the Zulus, in that it seemed only possible for both states that only one man could ever be fat, the nation's strategic fat reserves carried for security on one person, rather as the Merovingians made long hair their distinctive marker of royal status so these modern states had the male pot belly.

Journalist Barbara Demick has sown together a narrative account of six North Korean lives from the city of Chongjin in the north west from the 1990s through t
May 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
It’s one thing to read dystopias like 1984 and theoretically visualize an authoritarian government; it’s another thing entirely to read of real people who actually live under totalitarian rule. If the reading of a classic like the former is perhaps a more powerful reading experience, this nonfiction work proves a more empathetic one.

Demick writes in an ‘easy’ style, making this a work anyone can (and perhaps should) consume. The details of the rough lives of her six subjects and their resourcefu
Jan 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Margaret by: Feisty Harriet
This nonfiction book written by journalist Barbara Demick was published in 2009. It follows the lives of six North Koreans (actually more if you count family members) who manage to defect to South Korea. One could say the stories they tell might be biased against the North as they are the ones who chose to leave. On the other hand, as Demick explains, western reporters (she works for The Los Angeles Times) are not allowed any free access to Northern Koreans while they are in North Korea. There a ...more
I loved this book. I really knew next to nothing about North Korea before I read it, and it was a great introduction. Basically the North Korean regime is like one of those psychos who's kidnapped a bunch of little kids and keeps them chained in the basement their whole lives so they never know anything of the outside world, only unlike when psychos do this everyone else in the global neighborhood basically knows what's going on in that creepy house.

Demick's book relies on extensive interviews w
Nov 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: sometimes I feel the rats got a better deal than I do
Recommended to Mariel by: the skid marks are replies
"Some see the truth the proof only when the liar dies." - rapper C Ray Walz

"If you kill the head vampire then all half vampires return to normal." - Corey Haim in The Lost Boys. If only that were true, my brother.

"Why doesn't the government just leave us alone to live our lives?" (Women at the market were said to grumble this. They were bad ass women because they were illegally making money on the black market AND criticizing the government. In public, no less!)

Korea was free from thirty-five y
Some links I've come across that are helping me understand and digest this book better:

Vice on Youtube:
Inside North Korea
North Korea Film Madness
North Korean Labor Camps

The Big Picture - A Glimpse of North Korea - August/September, 2011
Seeing, Hearing and Speaking No Evil: On the Propaganda Tour in North Korea - July, 2012
"North Korea Experts Can See a Lot in a Hemline" - July, 2012
The Big Picture - Revealing More of North Korea - September, 2012
Photostream on Flickr I discover
João Carlos

Parada militar em Pyongyang, Coreia do Norte.

A longevidade de um regime – desumano, bárbaro, impiedoso, inclemente, malvado, tirânico, horrível, hediondo, insensível, atroz, lancinante, implacável, sangrento, sanguinário, inflexível, inimaginável, e tudo o mais que possamos escrever ou discorrer – é uma espécie de mistério para mim.
Nos anos 90 o desmoronamento iminente do regime norte-coreano era um consenso praticamente incontestado; contra todas as expectativas sobreviveu à queda do Muro de Be
Maria Espadinha
Jan 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Viva Portugal

Depois de me ter familiarizado com a realidade asfixiante que se vive na Coreia do Norte, só me apetece gritar alto e bom som:

Viva Portugal
Nov 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Whew! This testimony is so deep and dire that even I, who for the last 10 years avoided atrocity reads, cannot give it other than a 5 star. The author has grasped each life's memoir and journey to its minutia essentials. Of their intellects, their ambitions, their emotions, their loyalties, and most of all to their day to day physical conditions for their ultimate survivals. Outstanding, outstanding voice for the 6 characters of primary history- but also for the 23 million who have no voice with ...more
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Barbara Demick is an American journalist. She is currently Beijing bureau chief of the Los Angeles Times. She is the author of Logavina Street: Life and Death in a Sarajevo Neighborhood (Andrews & McMeel, 1996). Her next book, Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, was published by Spiegel & Grau/Random House in December 2009 and Granta Books in 2010.

Demick was correspondent for t
More about Barbara Demick

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“North Korea invites parody. We laugh at the excesses of the propaganda and the gullibility of the people. But consider that their indoctrination began in infancy, during the fourteen-hour days spent in factory day-care centers; that for the subsequent fifty years, every song, film, newspaper article, and billboard was designed to deify Kim Il-sung; that the country was hermetically sealed to keep out anything that might cast doubt on Kim Il-sung's divinity. Who could possibly resist?” 42 likes
“North Korean defectors often find it hard to settle down. It is not easy for somebody who’s escaped a totalitarian country to live in the free world. Defectors have to rediscover who they are in a world that offers endless possibilities. Choosing where to live, what to do, even which clothes to put on in the morning is tough enough for those of us accustomed to making choices; it can be utterly paralyzing for people who’ve had decisions made for them by the state their entire lives.” 36 likes
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