Nothing to Envy

Nothing to Envy

By Barbara Demick

A narrative about life in North Korea ranging from just after the war, into the famine, to present day, as remembered by a handful of defectors interviewed by the author.  As a reporter, she does a wonderful job of telling the whole story, about how each person thought of their country, reacted to the events that took course over the years since the war, how they came to know that something was amiss with the lies they had been fed by their governments, and how they managed to leave.  

The chapters bounce between the different subjects but follow the same time line, from when the government actually took care of everyone in the beginning, to the gradual undoing of its ability to provide for the people.

It’s as heartbreaking a story as you can imagine, focusing on events and consequences relating to the famine in the 1990’s, but all true.  The most interesting part was learning how the defectors came to acclimate to their new surroundings in the completely alien world of South Korea after their escapes, some of which took years and multiple attempts.  Extraordinary lives came of extraordinary loss and suffering.