Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Nothing to Envy - Barbara Demick

When I was on my way back from Hong Kong I saw this book on the shelf and I admit that North Korea and it's regime fascinates me, so I decided to buy it and take it with me to read on the plane.

I found it to be a really fantastic and eye opening book, to the lives of ordinary people in North Korea.

Before I read this book, my thoughts on North Korea were how indoctrination and communism really can brainwash a whole society.  And of course the nuclear threat they pose.  I wondered if all of North Korea thought the rest of the world was bad and that they were the lucky people.

I however had no idea that people in North Korea were starving to death, and that there was a famine there in the 90s which decimated about 20% of the population.  And reading the stories of the 6 people portrayed in this book, it is hard to remember that these are real people, real lives which are portrayed, and not a work of fiction which makes it all the more sad, all the more tragic.

We take our lives for granted, the freedom of speech, of information, in fact we even take that history for granted - we believe what we read in our books and whatever is passed down, even the food on our plates.  I can't imagine what I would have been like had I been born in North Korea, or what kind of person I would be.  Would I be a thief?  Would I be an avid communist?  Or would I be a freethinker, yearning for life on the other side of the fence?

I would recommend this book to anyone to read.  It really moved me.

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