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Event news: Undercover in Pyongyang – a discussion at Asia House

This year’s Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival brings us two talks with a Korean interest. The second of these is a discussion of North Korean issues between Suki Kim, author of Without You, There Is No Us (LKL review here) and Paul French, author of North Korea: State of Paranoia.

Sin Cities: Undercover in Pyongyang

Suki Kim: Without You, There Is No Us
24 May 2017, 18:45 – 20:00
Asia House | 63 New Cavendish Street | London W1G 7LP
General: £10, Concessions: £8, Members: £5 | Book here

Suki Kim

“Time there seemed to pass differently. When you are shut off from the world, every day is exactly the same as the one before. This sameness has a way of wearing down your soul until you become nothing but a breathing, toiling, consuming thing that awakes to the sun and sleeps at the dawning of the dark. The emptiness runs deep, deeper with each slowing day, and you become increasingly invisible and inconsequential. That’s how I felt at times, a tiny insect circling itself, only to continue, and continue. There, in that relentless vacuum, nothing moved. No news came in or out. No phone calls to or from anyone. No emails, no letters, no ideas not prescribed by the regime. Thirty missionaries disguised as teachers and 270 male North Korean students and me, the sole writer disguised as a missionary disguised as a teacher. Locked in that prison disguised as a campus in an empty Pyongyang suburb, heavily guarded around the clock, all we had was one another.”

An excerpt from the Preface of Without You There Is No Us: Undercover Among the Sons of North Korea’s Elite by Suki Kim, published by Crown Publishing Group, 2014.

On Wednesday 24th May, sponsored by Cockayne Grants for the Arts, a donor-advised fund of the London Community Foundation, we will be welcoming investigative journalist Suki Kim to our talk, Undercover in Pyongyang. Kim will be in conversation with Paul French, author of North Korea: State of Paranoia to discuss vice and virtue in Pyongyang.

Suki Kim covered North Korea for a decade and lived undercover for six months in Pyongyang in 2011, the final year of Kim Jong-il’s regime. Her observations and investigations as a missionary and a teacher at the all-male Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST) resulted in her New York Times Bestselling non-fiction title, Without You There Is No Us: Undercover Among the Sons of North Korea’s Elite which offers a rare glimpse of life into the world’s most unknowable country.


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