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March/April 2010 > Nothing to Envy:Ordinary Lives in North Korea - by Barbara Demick

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message 1: by LynnB (new)

LynnB This book is about six ordinary lives over a period of 15 years in chaotic, bleak North Korea. It is hard to believe the level of deprivation and humiliation these people endure. Just when you think it couldn't get any worse, it does -- and yet the book is not depressing, just heartbreaking. I gave it 5 stars.

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea is a study of a political system gone horribly wrong. "Dear Leader" denies citizens not only basic freedoms, but also the basic provisions necessary to maintain life at any level. It is Communism at its very worst and with no end in sight. It is hard to believe that the people have not tried to overthrow the government, but after so much brain-washing it appears that many truly believe that their country is better off than the rest of the world -- even as destitute as it is! By the end of the book, you can see that there are some beginning to understand the truth (DVDs and other modern items begin to work their way in from China). Recommended for anyone interested in other people of the world and social justice issues.


message 2: by Sera (new)

Sera | 1325 comments LynnB, I'm glad to see that someone else gave this important book a look. I'm listening to it on audio and it is unbelievable how North Korea is stuck in time. I wouldn't have thought that it would have been possible for a country not to make any progress in decades. I'm only a 1/3 of the way through so there's much more to come, but frankly, I am flabbergasted thus far.


message 3: by LynnB (new)

LynnB Sera wrote: "LynnB, I'm glad to see that someone else gave this important book a look. I'm listening to it on audio and it is unbelievable how North Korea is stuck in time. I wouldn't have thought that it wou..."

Glad to see you are reading it, too. Isn't it amazing ... sure is an eye-opener on North Korea!!


message 4: by Sera (new)

Sera | 1325 comments Indeed! I'll circle back with some more thoughts as I continue to listen to it. I have it on audio but I'm listening to other books in between so it will take me some time to get through.


message 5: by Judy (new)

Judy | 4 comments I finished this book about a month ago and enjoyed it the entire way through. I, too, was amazed by how backward North Korea was. I'm glad to see other people are reading it because I do think it is an important book, something we should all be aware of to better understand our world.


message 6: by Vanessa (new)

Vanessa | 17 comments I read this a few months ago. It's heart-rending to think about what this completely outmoded government is doing to its own people. Even worse, I had no idea there were some many predators waiting for those who escape to the South.

I really wish I could have skipped over the dog part. It was nightmare inducing.


message 7: by Sera (new)

Sera | 1325 comments Vanessa wrote: "I read this a few months ago. It's heart-rending to think about what this completely outmoded government is doing to its own people. Even worse, I had no idea there were some many predators waiting..."

Thanks for the head's up about the dog, Vanessa. I'm going to skip when it comes up on audio since I haven't reached that part yet. I just finished the section on Little Kim's taking over power after his father's death.


message 8: by Vanessa (new)

Vanessa | 17 comments Sera wrote:Thanks for the head's up about the dog, Vanessa.

Sera, I looked my review of this back up and-I know you are listening on audio but-it occurs at page 164. It's in one of the chapters were they talk about the boy orphan. That part was SO distressing I won't say any more.


message 9: by Sera (new)

Sera | 1325 comments Thanks, Vanessa. I fully intend to skip over it. I'm not one of those people who closes her eyes but then peeks. I'm in a good place right now and I don't want to hear anything distressing so I will be avoiding it.


message 10: by Sera (new)

Sera | 1325 comments I hit the dog part yesterday and skipped it. The clues were spot on.

What amazes me about this story is how people outside of NK didn't know what was going on inside. The part of the dead bodies being stacked up and thrown in graves because people were starving to death was surreal. The descriptions of famine are similar to those in Lisa See's novel Dreams of Joy by Lisa See , but cannibalism (especially of babies and young children) was much in China during its great famine. Interesting that China went through the famine 30 or so years earlier than NK.


message 11: by Sera (new)

Sera | 1325 comments Finally finished this one. Completely depressing.


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