A couple of new books to take with you on your summer break – or, more likely in respect of the first on the list, to adorn your coffee table when you return.
Oliver Wainwright takes us on an eye-opening tour behind closed doors in the most secretive country in the world, revealing that past the grand stone facades lie lavish wonder-worlds of marble and mosaic, coffered ceilings, and crystal chandeliers, along with new interiors in dazzling color palettes. Discover the palatial reading rooms of the Grand People’s Study House, and peer inside the locker rooms of the recently renovated Rungrado May Day Stadium, ready to host a FIFA World Cup that will never come.
A nice companion piece to Nick Bonner’s recent Made in North Korea and perhaps Charlie Crane’s Welcome to Pyongyang. Further details on the publisher’s website, Taschen.
Set in 1940s colonial Korea and Japanese-occupied Manchuria, Endless Blue Sky tells the love story between Korean writer Ilma and Russian dancer Nadia. The novel is both a thrilling melodrama set in glamorous locations that would shortly be tragically ravaged by war, and a bold piece of writing espousing new ideas on love, marriage, and race. Reading this tale of cosmopolitan socialites finding their way in a new world of luxury hotels, racetracks, and cabarets, one gets a sense of the enthusiasm for the future that some felt in Korea at the time.
Finally, one for the Kindle, which I stumbled over when looking for Oliver Wainwright’s book mentioned above: D.B. John’s Star of the North, “an explosive thriller set in North Korea” (Kindle download):
A young American woman disappears without trace from a South Korean island. The CIA recruits her twin sister to uncover the truth. Now, she must go undercover in the world’s most deadly state. Only by infiltrating the dark heart of the terrifying regime will she be able to save her sister…and herself.
It gets some good reviews on Amazon.