Western Authors and North Korea

Perhaps a few generations ago most Western societies looked upon North Korea with fear and trepidation, having been raised in a time that identified North Korea as a threat during the Cold War. However, now it seems that the image of fear has been replaced with one that revolves around a fascination with devastation and morbidity. The recent popularity of novels written by Western authors about North Korea, such as Blaine Harden’s Escape from Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the Westand Brandon W. Jones’s All Woman and Springtime, reveals the growth of the West’s captivation with the tales of the dark lives that the people of North Korea lead. The recent surge of new information coming from novels, which give the West a look into the enigmatic and mysterious self-enclosed world that is North Korea, may not necessarily be written with the intention of shocking and disturbing readers. But many seem to be written with the implication that they are exposing the ugly side of North Korean politics and society. Continue reading

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Nothing to Envy

By Michelle Trujillo

To be honest, it has not been very long since I decided to make North Korean human rights my goal, my devotion in life. I went to college thinking I would later become a psychologist and counsel young children. What I didn’t know was that several chance encounters would have me graduating college as a political science major fervent about bringing freedom to North Korea. I could tell you about all of these special encounters but today I’d like to focus on just one: Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick.

Barbara Demick is a reporter for the Los Angeles Times and has been interviewing North Korean refugees and defectors since 2001, when she moved to Seoul. During her stay in Korea, she has interviewed over a hundred defectors. Nothing to Envy follows the lives of six of those North Korean defectors, all from the same North Korean town but as different from one another as is possible. Continue reading