Reddit Reddit reviews Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

We found 78 Reddit comments about Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea. Here are the top ones, ranked by their Reddit score.

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78 Reddit comments about Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea:

u/[deleted] · 55 pointsr/pics

It does. In fact people in North Korea, especially young people, welcome the blanket of darkness at night as it allows them to do things they might not necessarily be able to do during the day under the watchful eye of government party members. It's likely that since the creation of the state, many thousands of dates have taken place at night, in the darkness, under the blanket of stars.

edit: I read this in "Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea" by Barbara Demick. It's a fascinating read which really sheds light on the misery and tragedy of life in North Korea under the regime.

u/EJERommel · 43 pointsr/AskHistorians

I would suggest Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demmick. It deals specifically about the subject you raised.

It is a fascinating read.

u/hawthornepridewipes · 42 pointsr/todayilearned

jumping on your comment to say how much that book engrossed me and that anyone who has read Escape From Camp 14 might also be interested in reading Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick. Out of all of the books I have read about life in North Korea this is the one that made me realise how dire the situation is out there right now due to the many stories from the different walks of life in NK.

u/raohthekenoh · 39 pointsr/technology

I read it in this book.

Very interesting look at people's lives in North Korea from the perspective of people who eventually decided to defect.

u/homedoggieo · 30 pointsr/explainlikeimfive

This... is a lot of questions. As in, volumes and volumes and volumes written about it.

So I'll just answer the how did it become so crazy? bit.

Korea was targeted for missionary work, and many people were converted to Christianity. Once North Korea was isolated after the Korean War, a guy named Kim Il-Sung came along (Kim Jong-Il's dad, and Jong-Un's grandfather) took advantage of this isolation, and literally had his people paste his face over Jesus's. There's an insane mythology behind him, even stating that his birth was heralded in by a shining star in the north and the appearance of a double rainbow. I read that information from Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demmick, which is a great read if you're interested.

Anyway, if you denied any of this, you disappeared. Eventually, people were too afraid to deny it. Then they were too afraid to tell their children the truth, so you had a new generation being raised with only this information.

A crazy amount of propaganda, isolation from the outside world and several generations later, you have modern North Korea.

Now that South Korea is so advanced and smartphone technology is getting increasingly hard to control (along with a spotty northern border into China where people can sneak out and get new information and products), truth about the outside world is starting to seep in - but people are still too afraid to do anything about it, and the power-hungry regime will do anything to maintain control.

u/theabolitionist · 28 pointsr/AskReddit

Here is the deal with N. Korea. Pretty much the ones who live in Pyongyang, aka where the media actually have cameras, are brainwashed. Apparently, those who live in the city are chosen by the leadership to live there as it is an honor. Those on the outskirts of the main drag are more in tune to the reality of the situation their country is in. Yes, they still have the mandatory framed pictures of Kim Jong Il & Un on their walls and yes if interviewed, taped or pressured they will act as they are expected to but in reality they know something isn't right. I suggest anyone who is interested read Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick.

u/Ballinger · 23 pointsr/MorbidReality

If you want to know more about daily life in North Korea, check out this oral history book entitled Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

It is an amazing read, goes from after the Korean War, through the famine in the 1990s, to current day.

u/SantosMcGarry2016 · 22 pointsr/news

Well, they're taught that trickery will be involved as well, they they may seem nice but will actually kill you, etc.
It is hard to fathom the level of brainwashing that goes on in NK. Most people are taught, and fully believe, that Dear Leader can actually read their minds. This stops them from even THINKING dissenting thoughts. So as you can imagine, it will take a LOT of deprogramming to deal with this stuff.

Even people who leave North Korea and defect to the South, go through a three-month resettlement school called Hanawon, where they are deprogrammed and taught how to live in modern society. So even the people who have got to the point of dissolution and figured out how to leave, still need a LOT of retraining to actually learn what the real world is like.

Now consider that there have been roughly 26,000 North Koreans defect to South Korea since the Korean War. Each needing to be screened to make sure they are not a North Korean spy, sent to Hanawon for 3 months, given their resettlement payment and supported to settle in a whole new world.

Compare that to 25 million people who would need to be dealt with. It's estimated the cost would be in the trillions to handle the crisis. There are summits every year on planning for response to the eventual collapse of the NK regime.

But more to your point, these people are prepared for invasion, they have no trust for the "enemy" coming in, and even if they don't really believe in the regime anymore, they have to continue to pretend to be fighting against these invaders like everyone else. Everyone is an informant to the Workers Party there, which is the ruling party and the whole regime. So if you don't pretend to play along, you will be accused of treason and likely executed publicly or sent to a prison camp. Hard to say what that looks like under actual invasion, so my money is on execution.

This comes around to all of those defectors living in South Korea. Many of them report that, even years later and now that they are part of modern society, they will still find themselves defending Kim Il-Sung, Kim Jong-Il and now Kim Jong-Un, when people speak poorly of them. All of that work, deprogramming and life in far better circumstances, and they still automatically find themselves defending the regime that put them through hell. It's unbelievable!

(Hard to find a clear source on some of this stuff as it's a bit of a collage of the books on NK I've read. Probably a lot of it is from Nothing To Envy, as I've read that book about seven times and I can't get enough of it. I truly can't recommend anything more highly!

u/emr1028 · 21 pointsr/worldnews

You think that you've just made a super intelligent point because you've pointed out the obvious fact that the US has issues with human rights and with over-criminalization. It isn't an intelligent point because you don't know jack shit about North Korea. You don't know dick about how people live there, and I know that because if you did, you would pull your head out of your ass and realize that the issues that the United States has are not even in the same order of magnitude as the issues that North Korea has.

I recommend that you read the following books to give you a better sense of life in North Korea, so that in the future you can be more educated on the subject:

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West

The Aquariums of Pyongyang: Ten Years in the North Korean Gulag

u/ende76 · 16 pointsr/

Recommended reading to understand what has been going on in North Korea since the 70s, from the people's perspective: Nothing to Envy, by Barbara Demick

It illustrates superbly how the people are affected by the insanity of their leaders, all the while trying to keep their belief and faith in their country. From the book you will learn, that it is quite possible that this woman in the video barely escaped death by starvation, that she has probably had to step over dozens of bodies of children that died from hunger in her town, that probably most of her family members have died from lack of food, and that the regime's indoctrination is so infused in her life, that at the point where she is being beaten for trying to survive in China, she probably believes in her heart that she has done something wrong.

u/IphtashuFitz · 11 pointsr/worldnews

No need. If you go read books like Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea you'll learn that there's already a thriving underground North Korean population in China just outside of Korea. When the food and economic situations in North Korea started getting really bad in the 90's lots of North Koreans risked going to China for jobs. They, and the local Chinese, apparently got pretty good at hiding from the Chinese military & police who would occasionally show up and try to round up North Koreans to ship back home.

u/adamsw216 · 11 pointsr/Art

For Korea in general I took a lot of East Asian history courses, including courses on relations with the west, in college. I studied abroad in South Korea for a time where I studied Korean history (ancient and modern) as well as Korean culture and sociology (mostly South Korea). I also had the pleasure of speaking with someone from North Korea.
But if you're interested to know more, these are some sources I can personally recommend...


u/run85 · 10 pointsr/running

Don't be silly. First, there's no way that that tour company does a lot of good humanitarian work in NK because nothing can be done without the explicit approval of the state. Whatever money they think they're giving, and however many meals they think are going to the orphanage, are probably going to help mid-level cadres bribe their kids' way into Kim Il-Sung University. Of course that money is going straight to the NK government. The only reason they let tourists in is because tourists pay lots of money for the privilege of a sanitized tour of the nicest parts of Pyongyang, with bonus appearances by North Korean citizens who definitely, 100% were not placed there by the regime and do not have to report on you afterwards. I recommend you read the book 'Nothing to Envy' by Barbara Demick for a general idea of things.

u/Bigbysjackingfist · 9 pointsr/explainlikeimfive

These anecdotes are from Nothing to Envy, I believe.

u/Monkeyavelli · 8 pointsr/worldnews

> Yet, how is it any different from those of you who suggest that life is better than death?

What the hell is wrong with you? North Koreans aren't some alien race, they're human beings who also don't want to die. Read memoirs from NK escapees like The Aquariums of Pyongyang or Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea. I attended a talk by the man written about in Escape from Camp 14, a man born in a NK prison camp who managed to escape.

These are not people longing for death; they're people longing for life.

>Why do you feel that it is fair to use your own experiences in this life to determine the value of life for other people?

We're not. You are:

"We shouldn't let people starve to death."

"But how do we know they don't want to starve to death!?"

You have absolutely no idea at all what you're talking about, your opinion is idiotic, and you're an awful person for having it.

Honestly, what the fuck is wrong with you? I hate this false "all positions are equal, teach the controversy!" charade.

u/motwist · 8 pointsr/books

I have an English degree, but I didn't read nonfiction until I graduated a few years ago. Here are the best I've read: Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick, The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann, and Kon-Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl.

u/suby · 8 pointsr/atheism

I read the same thing. 99% sure I read it from the book nothing to envy.

It's a pretty good book.

u/elbac14 · 8 pointsr/books

Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick. I can't explain why in just a few words but it is simply the best book I've ever read.

u/Axana · 7 pointsr/TrueReddit

There's an interesting passage in the book Nothing to Envy about the fertilizer shortages. Since North Korea can't afford to buy or produce fertilizer, they use human shit to fertilize their farms. To obtain this fertilizer, the government instituted a poop quota for each neighborhood block. Basically this meant that after you finished your business, you deposited your poop into specially designated buckets. The government would then collect the buckets and distribute them to the farms. If your block didn't meet the quota, then everyone in the block would get in trouble.

u/OptimusPrune · 6 pointsr/worldnews

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, by Barbara Demick, is an excellent if disturbing read if you're really interested.

Nothing to Envy

u/bearhat808 · 6 pointsr/conspiracy

The defector in Escape from Camp 14 recanted parts of his story.

I recommend reading Nothing to Envy instead, which is about daily life in North Korea.

u/filibusterdouglas · 6 pointsr/circlebroke

Yeah I didn't really have a clue about how it was in North Korea until reading this book. As an american who has never gone more than two days without food, it was hard for me to even imagine what they went (and go) through. Thanks for the link

u/zerrt · 5 pointsr/IAmA

For number 3, here are some good books that will go a long way to answering this question:

Nothing to Envy (stories of ordinary citizens who eventually fled)

Escape from Camp 14 (this one is about a prisoner camp inmate who escaped)

The short answer is that many people are starting to (illegally) cross between the border of North Korea and China to trade, as well as escaping permanently. There are smuggling businesses that you can hire to get you or a loved one out. If you have the money, this will involve a fake passport and even a plane flight all the way to South Korea. If you are poor, the trip is much more harrowing and dangerous.

The amount of people defecting seems to be growing by quite a bit each year.

u/jaywalker1982 · 5 pointsr/MorbidReality

I encourage, as always, everyone pick up The Aquariums of Pyongyang , Escape from Camp 14 , as well as Nothing To Envy as u/winginit21 mentioned.

Also David Hawk's The Hidden Gulag:Second Edition is a great resource. (PDF File)

u/bakedpatato · 5 pointsr/NorthKoreaNews

obviously the numbers aren't 100% accurate but the comment is reasonable per this book

u/chaircrow · 5 pointsr/suggestmeabook

Nothing to Envy is good. Disturbing as hell, though, so be prepared.

u/STATINGTHEOBVIOUS333 · 5 pointsr/MilitaryPorn

NK has changed a lot. People understand that they are left behind.

u/keck314 · 5 pointsr/IAmA

Yeah, parent is entirely untrue. In fact, many of their TVs are Chinese and Japanese, which are then modified by the telecommunications bureau to only receive government stations. As you might expect, hacking them back to full functionality is a time-honored pastime.

This book describes the phenomenon, and is generally excellent. It even describes what happened when an NKer got their hands on a copy of 1984!

u/thelawsmithy · 3 pointsr/ColinsLastStand

For more, read: Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea


Fascinating insight into the country.

u/Poulol · 3 pointsr/worldnews

They know plenty but trying to leave the country or having external media is illegal. It's not that easy for them to even escape because their families will be punished for it.

If you are interested in more North Korean Life I recommend this book

u/Triplanetary · 3 pointsr/socialism

>How does society deal with 50% unemployment? Do jobs themselves become goods or commodities?

There is precedent for this: North Korea. I read this book about day-to-day life in North Korea, and jobs do indeed end up getting traded and bartered between people. Obviously this is illegal, but it's a desperate situation there and people will take risks, not to mention the rampant bribery (since the officials themselves are often equally desperate).

u/rawketscience · 3 pointsr/northkorea

I think the first point to consider is that The Orphan Master's Son should be read as a domestic drama, more along the lines of Nothing to Envy than any of the foreign-policy focused news and zomg-weird-pop-performance-footage that dominates this subreddit and /r/northkoreanews.

In that light, the Orphan Master's Son is a lovely, well-told story, and it was well-researched, but it's still clearly a second-hand impression of the country. It doesn't add to the outside world's stock of DPRK information; it just retells the tragedies already told by Shin Dong-hyuk and Kenji Fujimoto in a literary style.

Then too, there are places where the needs of the story subsume the reality on the ground. For example, the book entertains the notion that the state would promote just individual one actress its paragon of female virtue and one individual soldier as the paragon of male virtue. This is important to author's point about public and private identity and whether love also needs truth, but it's wholly out of step with the Kim regime's way of doing business. Kim Il Sung is the one god in North Korea, and the only permissible icons are his successors, and to a lesser extent, senior party politicians. Pop figures are disposable.

But The Orphan Master's Son is a good read. It would go high on my list of recommendations for someone who wants a starting point on the country but is scared of footnotes and foreign names. But if your DPRK obsession hinges more on predicting the fate of the Kaesong Industrial Zone, it won't give you much.

u/fuhko · 3 pointsr/needadvice

So I recently graduated with a 3.0 GPA with a Biology degree. I'm two months out and I've still been having a tough time finding a job. I wanted to go into research but lab jobs are scarce.

However, I have been taking some classes at my local community college and I discovered that there are some programs that are relatively cheap to get into. For example, getting certified as an EMT only costs a few thousand dollars or so. This is a lot but if you save up, you might be able to afford it.

Basically if you can't get a job in your field, look into getting retrained cheaply, either in Community College or trade school or even military. You may not necessarily want to do this immediately but think about it.

And I absolutely second JBlitzen's advice:

> It would be beneficial, though, for you to start asking yourself what value you intend to create for others. And how your current path will help you to do so.

Essentially, figure out a plan on what you want to do with your current skills. Next, figure out a backup plan if it goes bad.

It definitely sucks to graduate knowing that you didn't do so well in college. I feel for you man, I'm pretty much in the same spot. Don't give up, don't get discouraged, lots of people have been in worse situations and have come out OK. Just read the book Scratch Beginnings or Nothing to Envy. In both stories, the protagnoists succeed in overcoming incredible odds to live a good life.

Figure out what your dreams are and keep going after them. I believe you can reach them. And no, I'm not just saying that.


Also, network! Get to know your teachers and make sure they like you so you have references!!! Show interest in your classes this last semester. You have no idea how important personal references are. Better yet, ask your teachers if they know of any jobs or have any job advice.

All job searching is personal. Employers want to hire people they know will do a good job. Hence the need for personal connections or references (At least someone though this guy was competent.) or demonstrating interest in a particular position. You're still in school so you still have a solid amount of opportunities to network.

Also, some hepful links

u/karlth · 3 pointsr/worldnews
u/TubePanic · 3 pointsr/italy

> Sugli imprenditori però non sarei così tranchant.

Non credo - se non altro, perche' prima dei Padani ci sono i gli imprenditori Cinesi.

E il Grana Padano lo vendi male in un paese dove la gente qualche anno fa crepava di fame per le strade. Source: Nothing to Envy di Barbara Demick

u/arickp · 3 pointsr/videos

>Would anybody be able to tell me what North Korea is like? Not as a western tourist, but as an average citizen, privileged and favored or not.

No, sorry. It really is the "hermit kingdom." The closest you can get is watching interviews with defectors on YouTube, this AMA or reading Nothing to Envy.

u/Both_Of_Me · 2 pointsr/Random_Acts_Of_Amazon
u/NigelLeisure · 2 pointsr/History_Bookclub

If you're looking for a book on life in NK I'd recommend Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea.

u/inkWanderer · 2 pointsr/explainlikeimfive

If you're looking for a more in-depth work, there's a fantastic book about six North Korean refugees who are mostly rehabilitated in Seoul now. Here's the link; I highly recommend it.

u/jejuislander · 2 pointsr/korea

Upvote for this. The excellent Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick deals with this issue towards the end of the book. A good read.

u/Liquidator47 · 2 pointsr/pics

Ok fine, but where's even that coming from?

After reading this I don't assume that it could be easy.

u/MrPisster · 2 pointsr/worldnews

"Nothing to Envy"

Good read if your into that stuff.

Also "Escape from Camp 14"

That one is less about ordinary citizen's lives and more about the modern day concentration camps the North Korean government is controlling.

u/skeeterbitten · 2 pointsr/AskReddit

Botany of Desire. The title turned me off, but it's actually really interesting and my whole family has read and enjoyed it.

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary lives in North Korea Serious stuff, but so fascinating.

Stumbling on Happiness. Fun read on human nature and happiness.

u/SanFransicko · 1 pointr/worldnews

Piggybacking your comment to tell anyone interested in the situation in N.K. to read the book "Nothing to Envy"

This is true. When Jong Il was in power, and the famine was extremely harsh, free markets sprung up and foreign aid was available for sale. It was the first time a lot of people had been able to get white rice in years. I love to hear this; hopefully it's the beginning of the end for their government. When history looks back on what's been going on in North Korea, I'm sure it will judge the rest of the world harshly for letting this oppression go on so long, leading to the deaths by starvation of so many people.

There is an amazing but very dark book called "Nothing to Envy" link. It's an amazing snapshot of what's going on in that country, written at an interesting time. When Korea finally opens up, we won't be able to get the points of view of people who are absolutely indoctrinated with the propaganda of the North.

u/iamaravis · 1 pointr/TrueAtheism

I'm aware of the state of things in NK. I just didn't think "cult of personality", however extreme, counted as a recognized religion. :) Perhaps I'm wrong.

(Also, I just finished reading the fascinating book Nothing to Envy. Highly recommend it!)

u/wizardomg · 1 pointr/Kanye

Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West

Also the person in the neighborhood that reports on you part I mentioned is from this book

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

u/boredcentsless · 1 pointr/worldnews

>They have smuggled TV shows from SK, they listen to radio, they work in some way or the other. They don't just sit at home and worship the Kims.

Some do, some don't. It depends on where you live in NK. The ones who would sit and remain in the country instead of bolting at the first chance most likely would. this is a good book about the situation

u/DiKetian · 1 pointr/Random_Acts_Of_Amazon

I'm going to start The Liar by Stephen Fry, which Vrgom20 generously gifted to me! After that, probably Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick - it's going to be dark, I know.

u/therealdrag0 · 1 pointr/WTF
u/hipsterparalegal · 1 pointr/books

The most recent nonfiction book that had the biggest impact on me is "Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea." Two friends have read it since and they were just as blown away as I was:

u/Fractology · 1 pointr/pics

If you're at all interested in how people are living (or, more appropriately, struggling to live there) in North Korea, you MUST read "Nothing To Envy." This is a book written from the stories of six North Korean defectors. I doubt there's a better source of information about the inside of this joke of a nation:

u/robbie321 · 1 pointr/todayilearned

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick

It's incredible (ly depressing). You should read it. I live in Seoul so scary to think this is only like 60km away.

u/Schadenfreuder · 1 pointr/pics

The country's population is immensely famished. The majority of the population are forced to fend themselves with nearly zero assistance from Pyongpang, and thus they've eaten everything remotely edible over a decade ago. I've seen recipes for bark come out of that country.

There is an immensely fascinating book that does a masterful job of recapping the country's recent history and the struggles of the people: Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North America.

u/svanobanano · 1 pointr/IAmA

Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick goes into this quite a bit, as well as just general life in the DPRK, if you're interested at all.

u/biglost · 1 pointr/IAmA

I have to recommend this book, Nothing to Envy to anyone interested in the human side of North Korea. Daily life from Northern North Korea, not the showcase city of Pyongyang. I just finished it earlier this season, real page turner and its pretty understanding and sympathetic but also sensible, you really get emotionally invested in the characters.

u/mindMob · 1 pointr/booksuggestions

This semester I had to read a non-fiction book too, so I picked this:

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

No regrets. Excellent flow, loved the author's way of presenting different events, multiple sources and excellent knowledge to acquire about the past and current life in North Korea.

u/joch256 · 1 pointr/videos

I'm pretty sure it's this book. Highly recommend

u/deadtous · 1 pointr/booksuggestions

I really enjoyed Nothing to Envy but it's about North Korea. Longform journalism.

u/joot78 · 1 pointr/SampleSize

I did take it! :)

P.S. My favorite NK defector(s) book is Nothing to Envy - if you read just one, go with that!

u/muj561 · 1 pointr/todayilearned

Here's the Amazon link:

And a Prezi review that includes a reading level assessment:

Reading level: middle school students to adults
few parts more appropriate for older middle school students
Interesting for: people who are curious North Korean way of life and how North Koreans reacted to an economic crisis, as well as struggles in society

u/WinonaForever · 1 pointr/explainlikeimfive

If you haven't already, I would recommend reading Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick.

u/unicorn-jones · 1 pointr/NoStupidQuestions

I highly recommend Nothing To Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea for a good look at the situation North Korea.

As I understand it (through this book and a few other works I've read on the topic), NK leaders/the Kim family are mired in a fantasy in which they see themselves as being under constant threat by S Korea and the West. They feel the need to constantly flex their muscle in order to demonstrate that they cannot be invaded the way they were by the Japanese and the Americans in the past. This, despite the fact that an estimated 500-600k people died of famine in NK in our lifetimes, which means that developing weapons and rocketry is sucking food out of the mouths of starving people.

Relatedly, it's to prove to the NK people internally that they are a mighty country that the world envies/is afraid of. Even without media access to the outside world, the average NK citizen knows how important military might is on the global scale, so seeing their country appear to be a player on that stage ensures that the citizenry continues to buy the government's lies about how important NK is as a world player.

u/BlamelessKodosVoter · 1 pointr/worldnews

But that's a work of fiction. Here's a good book about the lives of North Koreans

u/made1eine · 1 pointr/IAmA

for people interested in everyday life in NK: I just read a fantastic book by an American journalist following the lives of (I think) 6 defectors while also providing some good historical and cultural background.

It's called Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick. Highly recommended.

u/RepostFromLastMonth · 1 pointr/worldnews

Yes. The older generation that still remembers are in favor of unification, but the younger generations see them as another country, and a burden that they'd have to pay for (in an already highly competitive society). They see them as a massive amount of uneducated and brainwashed refugees they would have to pay for who would not fit into modern South Korean society.

North Koreans do escape and defect to the south. It is not an easy thing for them. They are looked down on by the South Koreans, and they are in a place where the language is different, their skills and credentials are no longer valid (I remember reading an interview with a girl who was a doctor in North Korea, but her credentials were not accepted by places in the South and she had to go back to school).

North Koreans who escape to the South are automatically granted citizenship. Right now, with a trickle of defectors, that is fine. But if the country fell, they would need to keep them sequestered in NK, and then deal with the North's disillusionment as they see how bad they are off compared to the South, and that they will likely never be able to have the lives that the South Koreans have achieved after reunification and the anger that will bring. The issue would reverberate long after, and it may only be the children or grandchildren of those from the North who will finally succeed in the South.

If you are interested in the history of North Korea, I highly recommend reading Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader, which gives a very good and complete history of North Korea from its founding till the 1990's.

After that, I recommend Nothing to Envy, which is a collection of interviews following the lives of six North Korean defectors.

Other Books to read:

  • Dear Leader: Poet, Spy, Escapee--A Look Inside North Korea
  • This is Paradise!: My North Korean Childhood
  • The Real North Korea: Life and Politics in the Failed Stalinist Utopia
  • The Reluctant Communist: My Desertion, Court-Martial, and Forty-Year Imprisonment in North Korea
u/wickintheair · 1 pointr/IAmA

I don't think visiting a country who has a differing foreign policy is really comparable to visiting a country where an oppressive dictator has kept 23 million brainwashed people in utter poverty and starvation. Whatever money you spend in North Korea goes to those in power, and they certainly aren't using that money to feed their people. No, it's more like Hennessy and cigarettes.

Furthermore, anyone who suggests that the official tour that everyone who visits NK goes on is in any way a full and accurate depiction of day to day life in North Korea is kidding themselves. That tour is carefully crafted to only show what the propaganda arm of NK wants. You have two tour guides who are carefully selected from party loyalists, you're not allowed to leave their sight, you're not allowed to talk with anyone else, you're not allowed to take pictures they don't like. I'm not quite sure how you would bring a "glimpse of hope" to an average North Korean if you're not allowed to interact with them in any way.

If you're interested in learning about day to day life in NK, I would recommend reading North of the DMZ by Andrei Lankov, who studied in North Korea in the 80's, or Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick, who interviewed many defectors about their experiences in NK.

Tourism isn't going to do much for the average North Korean. For a start, I'd place my money on soap operas smuggled in from South Korea and pirate radio stations.

u/cloudfor2000 · 1 pointr/IAmA

How true is the book "Nothing to Envy"

u/Variable303 · 1 pointr/books

Thanks for the tips! The pie shakes at Hamburg Inn sound amazing. I actually just caved in tonight and got a burger/shake combo after a week of eating healthy...

As far as recommendations go, I have a feeling you've likely read most of the fiction I'd suggest. That said, here's a couple non-fiction suggestions you might not have read:

Walkable City, by Jeff Speck. If you've ever been interested in cities, what makes them work (or not work), and what types of decisions urban planners make, check it out. It's a quick read, entertaining, and you'll never see your city or any other city in the same way.

Nothing to Envy, by Barbara Demick. Told primarily through the eyes of two people, this book provides readers with a glimpse of what life is like for the millions of ordinary North Korean citizens.

Anyway, I know it's well past the time frame for your AMA, but if you get a chance, I'd love to know if there's any one book that helped you the most as a writer (e.g. King's, "On Writing"), or any one piece of advice that has carried you the most. I don't ever plan on writing professionally, but I've always wanted to write a novel just for the satisfaction of creating something, regardless if anyone actually reads it. I just feel like I spend so much time consuming things others have created, while creating nothing in return. Plus, getting 'lost in a world you're creating' sounds immensely satisfying.

u/unexceptional · 1 pointr/worldnews

Can't recommend the book that blogger talks about highly enough. For the lazy, and non-lazy, it's Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea and one of the best contemporary nonfiction books I've ever read. SO GOOD.

u/adrenal8 · 1 pointr/Documentaries

On North Korean along with the Vice ones you've already seen I can recommend the following that you can find on Netflix:

Inside North Korea Lisa Ling (sister of Laura Ling, who was trapped in North Korea) travels to North Korea with an eye surgeon who is doing humanitarian work there. There's a really great scene after all of the patients get their bandages unwrapped.

Crossing the Line About Americans who defected to North Korea during the Korean War and live/lived in Pyongyang. Really interesting stuff.

Kim Jong Il's Comedy Club / The Red Chapel This one is about Korean-Danish comedians who go to Pyongyang to do a very peculiar comedy routine. It's full of awkward moments but there's some pretty insightful stuff in there.

A State of Mind I haven't seen this one, and it's not on Netflix, but it's the same director as Crossing the Line (he's earned DPRK's trust and is allowed access for movies). It's about North Korean girls preparing for the Mass Games.

Also two books I would recommend are Nothing to Envy about ordinary citizens lives during the famine of North Korea and The Real North Korea which explains why politically, North Korea has no choice but to continue the current path.

I don't have any recommendations for China, sorry.

u/Quackattackaggie · 1 pointr/AskHistorians

doesn't look like it is. won a non-fiction award.

u/tempstairs · 1 pointr/IAmA

There's a really well written book too that recounts the stories of a few escapees. Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

u/iamyoursuperior_4evr · -1 pointsr/pics

The gullibility and smarmy naivete in this thread is just pathetic. Yes. War is bad. What a revelation. Why hasn't anybody else thought of that before?

If you want to feel all warm and fuzzy inside go buy a Hallmark card or go browse /r/aww.

People living in the real world understand that geopolitics is a game of advantage that you can't circumvent by pleading for everyone to join hands and sing Kumbaya. When you appease dictators and cede ground to them you simply enable and embolden their behavior. Furthermore, the South Korean president is hugging and holding hands with a mass murderer who has enslaved over 20 million people, condemning them to a live a life of near starvation and physical/psychological imprisonment. You're the leader of an extraordinarily prosperous, democratic country; have some dignity. You're meeting a piece of human excrement who is feeling on top of the world right now. You shake the man's hand for diplomacy's sake. You don't hug and caress him.

It's just so god damned pathetic how naive people are. What's happening here is that South Korea learned to live under a nuclear DPRK a long time ago. What they can't abide is constantly ratcheting up brinksmanship that is eagerly stoked by a senile reality tv star with the strongest military in the history of the world at his beck and call.

China, RoK, and DPRK have cooked up this appeasement scheme to dupe Trump into thinking he's quelled the DPRK threat. DPRK will keep its nuclear weapons (the announcement that they've completed their nuclear weapons program and no longer need the facility they're shutting down should have been a good indicator of DPRK's intentions for people that were too blind to them up until now) and as we can see here, the Kim regime gets boatloads of photo opportunities, diplomatic prestige, increased security internally, increased legitimacy externally and inevitably sanctions relief. China will benefit from further DPRK stability and increased trade opportunities (and leverage on Trump as well). And South Korea gets to see the sabre-rattling cease and they receive the same benefits China does from prolonged security for Kim regime. They don't want to deal with that humanitarian crisis either. Trump gets a plaque on his wall that says "Best Negotiator Ever" and a polaroid of a North Korean testing facility with a "closed" sign on the gate.

But don't let me get in the way of everyone "awwwwww"ing over this like it's a picture of a cat hugging a golden retriever. Bunch of rubes.

edit: Can't wait to see all the memes come out of this. Kim Jong Un is gonna have his image rehabilitated the same way GWB did lol... But I don't want this to just a useless rant yelling at silly people. So, before you guys start memeing up KJU let me give you guys a short reading list of DPRK books I've greatly enjoyed (I've been fascinated with DPRK for at least a decade):

  • Dear Leader: My Escape from North Korea. This is a great firsthand account of an "inner" party member who lived the relatively high life in Pyongyang as a propagandist.

  • Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea Exactly what it sounds like: biographies of normal people who live(d) in DPRK over the last 30 years. This book is shocking, sickening, heart wrenching, triumphant, and any other superlative descriptor you can think of. Can't recommend it enough.

  • Aquariums of Pyongyang. Nothing to Envy describes gulag life in detail but this book delves into it exclusively and I found myself enthralled but revolted at the same time. You'll have to take breaks to process the horror and atrocities it describes.

    So yeah, check any of those books out then come back here and see if you're still inclined to "oooo" and "awww" and talk about how sweet this is.
u/LukaCola · -2 pointsr/todayilearned

If this sounds surprising, I suggest people read the book "Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea"

Amazon linky

It's nice because it doesn't just focus on what is horrible but also speaks about the people's lives, their thoughts, feelings, dreams, etc. It's very humanizing, especially when some of the people written about talk about how much they loved their leader and worked to meet the party's desires.

I think the thing that kind of surprised me was how, after the death of one of the Jongs, everyone basically competed with each other to appear sad and distraught in their public mournings. After all, someone who didn't express this might be seen as subversive. Her description of it all is far better than mine, it's a good book.