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Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

Average Rating 5
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  • Posted January 19, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    What an amazing book! Written by a journalist living in South Ko

    What an amazing book! Written by a journalist living in South Korea, it follows the lives of six North Korean defectors from childhood to present day. It weaves a story of loyalty, honor and personal conviction while tossing in some rebellion and acceptance. It’s not a happy story and at parts can be hard to stomach (reality often is), but it is definitely worth reading.




    What I liked most about this book is that it tells the story from the point of view of the North Koreans, leaving out judgment, American politics and every preconceived notion one might have going into  the book. It is not a book designed to paint North Korea as anything but what the people involved believe it to be. The reality can be, at times, unnerving, but it is refreshing to read about North Korea without the brackets of international judgment around it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 22, 2012

    I love North Korea as a last vestige of the Cold War. However, a

    I love North Korea as a last vestige of the Cold War. However, after reading this book, I find it much more difficult to joke about it. Incredible read. Great, great book! I recommend it to anyone who wants a dramatic non-fiction read. Well done!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 26, 2012

    A very rewarding experience!

    Curiosity added this book to my order. I'm so glad! The stories are interwoven and personal to a level that you cannot put this book down. Completely engrossing and enlightening!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2013

    A truly haunting read that I couldn't put down. For the first ti

    A truly haunting read that I couldn't put down. For the first time I heard the voices of North Koreans, not the judgements of outsiders.

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  • Posted June 2, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Engrossing, enlightening, and horrifying ¿ all at the same time.

    Engrossing, enlightening, and horrifying – all at the same time. North Korea is a land removed from society and probably even time itself, so to speak.. I found this a difficult book to get through but well worth the read! A great book if you want to understand a little better what you see in the news.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2012

    By far this is the best written book I've read in years & it

    By far this is the best written book I've read in years & it is obvious the author put a lot of thought & effort into her work. Very easy to follow & well written. I now understand how the masses could have been so easily seduced by the idea that "Dear Leader" was only concerned for their welfare & North Korea's greater good. I thank the author for bringing a greater understanding
    about a country that most know little about.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2012

    Very informative about an unknown part of the world

    This book is difficult to read at times. Sometimes it feels like a college textbook with an incredible amount of information about North Korea. Also the extremely sad situation of its citizens makes it emotionally draining. But it is worth the effort as the reader follows the engrossing stories of the lives of several of its citizens who have defected. It was a definite "thumbs up" in my book club. The main comment from several members was that they had no idea this was all happening in North Korea in our modern times.

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  • Posted March 18, 2012

    A true and accurate documentation of the lives of North Korean r

    A true and accurate documentation of the lives of North Korean refugees.
    This non-fictional piece of literature was genuine and real. Nothing to Envy, by Barbara Demick, is told by 6 North Korean refugees who were interviewed years after escaping N.K. and making it into South Korea. Demick explains early in the book how she had originally made it into North Korea(something that is extremely difficult to do for an American journalist), but that the information revealed to her there was not enough and seemed to be far from the truth. By focusing her interviews in South Korea, she was able to gain much more information and create a piece of literature that revealed more than we have ever known before about the social, political and private lives of the North American people.
    What I enjoyed most about this book was its organization. It is divided into 6 sections, each told by a different refugee narrator. What made this so interesting was that each narrator focused primarily on different aspects of life. For example, one told stories of the difficulty she and her boyfriend had had in N.K. because they were of different social classes. Another focused on explaining what it was like to have her father arrested for saying something negative about Kim Jong-Il. Demick could have easily combined all the stories of the people she had interviewed and relayed the information all together, but instead she chose to go about it in a much more personable and easy to follow fashion.
    Overall I really enjoyed reading this book. I look forward to reading more of Barbara Demick’s work as well as finding other books to read that are about the lives of North Korean citizens.

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  • Posted December 29, 2011

    Highly Recommended

    Good book about the people and how the country has regressed from the twentieth to the 19th century in less than 5 years. Also, timely with the recent death of Kim Jong-il. The book is a picture of how fragile our society and culture isand how reliant we are energy to maintain our lifestyle. Once gone, a century is lost. Most poignant was when some of the North Korean's interviewed knew the first time when they went hungry all day. Yet, they still believe in their leader. Whoever that may be.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2011

    Excellent

    A fascinating of the personal history of North Korea. There is so little information about the lives of individuals and this book is amazing.

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  • Posted May 14, 2011

    GREAT!

    THIS BOOK IS HARD TO PUT DOWN.KIM JONG-IL IS A DEMON.

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  • Posted March 31, 2011

    Absolutely absorbing a great insight from a brilliant journalist.

    I happened to come across an excerpt from the New Yorker that details the life of a devoted Socialist who eventually defected from North Korea and is now living in South Korea. "Nothing to Envy" written by Barbara Demick gives great detail through several ordinary citizen of North Korea the sacrifices that was made and the misery they endured living in a totalitarian society that is notoriously known as the "Hermit Kingdom". It is very sad for the unfortunate event that they had went through, in a society that is built on stalinist foundation of juche idealogy of Kim Il Sung. The two country in the Korea Peninsula are vastly different. The average height of North Korean's are significantly shorter than their South Korean counterpart. Technology have completely stopped since the dissolution of the Soviety Union. Economy of the North Korea have traveled backwards in time whereas it reminds us of Goerge Orwell's 1984. This book gives us great detail and the most humane literature I have read in a long while.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 18, 2012

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    Posted July 29, 2012

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    Posted December 31, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2011

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