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**Named one of the best books of 2015 by The Economist**
Private Markets, Fashion Trends, Prison Camps, Dissenters and Defectors.
North Korea is one of the most troubled societies on earth. The country's 24 million people live under a violent dictatorship led by a single family, which relentlessly pursues the development of nuclear arms, which periodically incites risky military clashes with the larger, richer, liberal South, and which forces each and every person to play a role in the "theater state" even as it pays little more than lip service to the wellbeing of the overwhelming majority.
With this profoundly anachronistic system eventually failed in the 1990s, it triggered a famine that decimated the countryside and obliterated the lives of many hundreds of thousands of people. However, it also changed the lives of those who survived forever.
A lawless form of marketization came to replace the iron rice bowl of work in state companies, and the Orwellian mind control of the Korean Workers' Party was replaced for many by dreams of trade and profit. A new North Korea Society was born from the horrors of the era—one that is more susceptible to outside information than ever before with the advent of k-pop and video-carrying USB sticks. This is the North Korean society that is described in this book.
In seven fascinating chapters, the authors explore what life is actually like in modern North Korea today for the ordinary "man and woman on the street." They interview experts and tap a broad variety of sources to bring a startling new insider's view of North Korean society - from members of Pyongyang's ruling families to defectors from different periods and regions, to diplomats and NGOs with years of experience in the country, to cross-border traders from neighboring China, and textual accounts appearing in English, Korean and Chinese sources. The resulting stories reveal the horror as well as the innovation and humor which abound in this fascinating country.
What listeners say about North Korea ConfidentialAverage Customer Ratings
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A Unique and Balanced Perspective
I enjoyed this book from the point of view of only having known the DPRK from small comments and articles. This was a great insight into the daily life in North Korea.
- Amazon Customer
Interesting portrait of North Korea marred by awful pronunciation
Interesting take on the modern North Korean society and economy that provides a more nuanced picture of the country than many sources. The narrator is generally good, but his pronunciation of Korean terms is laughably awful. I’m living in South Korea now and could barely understand what he was saying, ridiculous rising tones on random syllables, like he’s trying to read Korean words with some ‘40s era Hollywood stereotypical “east Asian” accent. Even basic terms like “Kim Jong Il” are mispronounced with strange intonations and rising stresses. It’s distracting and takes away from an otherwise good narration, especially when a 15 minute primer on the pronunciation of Korean transliterations prior to recording would probably have cleared up the more glaring issues. Otherwise a refreshing and informative take on aspects of the country rarely discussed in the west.
intresting ,but the final analysis is flawed
Good book has some interesting facts,but the authors' final argument is that the government of Pyongyang will reform and embrace a market economy, but if that were the case the DPRK would of done that already.