Books on DPRK

Another book on the DPRK hits the bookshops

by Philip Gowman 27 August 2012
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I always get depressed when I see a new book on the DPRK, because the DPRK is a depressing subject. Plus, it’s the thought that people are spending their lives trying to figure out this unfathomable regime. It’s the thought that there’s another 500 pages which I feel I ought to read, but which if […]

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Damn! I’ve run out of shelf space

by Philip Gowman 22 August 2012
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I’ve run out of shelf space, so I have no room for the recently issued Volume 17 (enlarged edition) of Kim Jong-il’s selected works. Now I’ll never get the full set, or find out how to “More Firmly Strengthen Socialist Revolutionary Position by Doing Party Work Well”.

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John Everard launches “Only Beautiful Please”

by Philip Gowman 8 July 2012
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Former UK ambassador to Pyongyang John Everard has just launched his book “Only Beautiful Please” at a talk to the Korea Society. He caused a stir by saying North Koreans don’t like the Chinese, which links in with something the defector Kim Joo-il said in a letter to the FT in September 2010: North Koreans […]

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The Orphan Master’s Son: best left in the orphanage

by Philip Gowman 23 March 2012
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Adam Johnson: The Orphan Master’s Son Doubleday, 2012 The publication of The Orphan Master’s Son, the second novel by Adam Johnson, had lucky timing, surfing the wave of interest in the North caused by the death of Kim Jong-il. The newspapers duly lined up to review it to general acclaim, but an early battleground formed: […]

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James Church reviews The Orphan Master’s Son

by Philip Gowman 13 February 2012
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James Church reviews a new novel set in North Korea – The Orphan Master’s Son (http://t.co/pmm4ujv4) and raises many caveats at 38North.org http://t.co/7jByBVCN

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Tim Beal’s Crisis in Korea launched

by Philip Gowman 11 October 2011
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Tim Beal’s new book “Crisis in Korea – America, China and the Risk of War” (Pluto Press) will be launched at Arthur Probsthain Bookshop, 41 Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3PE on 25 October, 6.30-8.30 pm. RSVP: arthurprobsthain@hotmail.com Tel: 0207 636 1096. Available on Amazon.co.uk now.

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Jiyoung Song’s Human Rights Discourse in North Korea

by Philip Gowman 9 August 2011
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Michael Rank reviews Jiyoung Song’s Human Rights Discourse in North Korea: Post-colonial, Marxist and Confucian Perspectives over at North Korean Economy Watch. “Thoughtful and well informed” http://bit.ly/pu8WLS

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New book on North Korean Art

by Philip Gowman 7 August 2011
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New book on North Korean art (“Exploring North Korean Arts”) is published following the 2010 exhibition and conference in Vienna. Chapters by Jim Hoare, AidanFC, Koen De Ceuster & others. http://amzn.to/pP3LF0 #

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DPRK-related books reviewed in Economist

by Philip Gowman 17 May 2011
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Three DPRK-related books get a brief review in the Economist. Guy Delisle’s Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea, the latest James Church, and the thriller Maximum Target by Martin Gower: http://econ.st/mqErGC #

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Book review: Chris Springer — North Korea Caught in Time

by Philip Gowman 5 May 2011
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Chris Springer: North Korea Caught in Time – Images of War and Reconstruction with introductory essay by Balázs Szalontai. Garnet Publishing, 2010 (148pp) In the English-speaking world, the story of the Korean war and its aftermath, if told at all, is told first from the perspective of the US and UN combatants that came to […]

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Barbara Demick’s Nothing to Envy lives up to the hype

by Philip Gowman 27 November 2010
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Barbara Demick: Nothing to Envy – Real Lives in North Korea Granta, 2010 Why, when Korean Studies bookshelves are dominated by volumes about the North, about which so much less is known than the South, do we need yet another volume? Why, when we have so many defector eye-witness accounts of starvation, torture and oppression, […]

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Book Review: Your Republic is Calling You

by Philip Gowman 15 September 2010
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Kim Young-ha: Your Republic is Calling You Translated by Kim Chi-young Harcourt, 2010. First published in Korean: 2006 Ki-yong, a North Korean agent, has lived undercover in Seoul for half his life. Inactive for the last 10 years, he is suddenly given an order to return home. Is the order a hoax? Is he being […]

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Illusive Utopia reviewed in the Asia Times

by Philip Gowman 18 July 2010
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Looks like a fascinating book on North Korean arts. Michael Rank reviews “Illusive Utopia” by Suk-young Kim in the Asia Times: http://bit.ly/96S7hq # This impressively researched book examines performance in North Korea in great detail and in its widest sense, from theater and film to visual art and literature and even fashion

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Demick wins Samuel Johnson prize

by Philip Gowman 2 July 2010
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Congratulations to Barbara Demick for winning the Samuel Johnson Prize for Nothing to Envy (reviewed by LKL here) Through extensive interviews with defectors, Los Angeles Times journalist Barbara Demick shows in a compelling and unforgettable way that this hermetic country is Orwell’s 1984 made reality. Sources: Samuel Johnson Prize website | Guardian # Authors: Barbara […]

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Book review: Life on the Edge of the DMZ

by Jennifer Barclay 13 June 2010
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Lee See-woo: Life on the Edge of the DMZ Global Oriental, 2008 I’ve been dipping in and out of this fascinating though often overly complex book by peace activist Lee Si-Woo. It’s sometimes hard to tell whether the English translation – for the most part unfussy ­– is sometimes too literal, or whether original is […]

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Nothing to envy: it brought tears to the eyes of a jaded cynic

by Philip Gowman 20 February 2010
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LKL reports from the book launch of Barbara Demick’s Nothing to Envy – Real Lives in North Korea It was a well-informed audience attending Barbara Demick’s book launch at the Royal Festival Hall on Tuesday, many of whom had been to North Korea. As the strains of a Mozart Symphony wafted upstairs from the concert […]

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Hwang Sun-won: The Descendants of Cain

by Philip Gowman 17 February 2010
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Hwang Sun-won: The Descendants of Cain Translated by Suh Ji-moon and Julie Pickering East Gate / UNESCO, 1997. Originally published 1954 Novels set in post-liberation Korea, or during the Korean war, often make uncomfortable reading, particularly those set in the Soviet sphere of influence, and where the story is set in the countryside. The historical […]

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