Book Review: Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

This book is by Barbara Demick, an American journalist who spent years in Korea. This quite
incredible book is the story of 6 North Koreans who managed to defect to the South and who told their stories to Barbara.

Although it isn’t a novel, the stories are very well pieced together and straight away, you
become engrossed in the very difficult lives the subjects lead in the secretive and controlling
country. Several sections of the book are very hard to read as they cover the horrendous time of the famine when at least one-fifth of the population died.

It kept reminding me of Orwell’s 1984 – a real nightmare and yet the subjects of the book
manage to survive and eventually escape, otherwise we would never have heard their
fascinating and very moving stories.

Not an easy, relaxing read but all the same, a very well-written and accessible way to find out more about this totalitarian and fearsome regime by hearing the stories of people who
survived it.


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