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Without You, there is no Us

Author:
Publisher: , 2014
Link to online store *

From the publisher’s website:

It is 2011, and all universities in North Korea have been shut down for an entire year, except for the all-male Pyongyang University of Science and Technology. This is where Suki Kim has accepted a job teaching English. Over the next six months she will eat three meals a day with her young charges and struggle to teach them to write, all under the watchful eye of the regime.

Life at the university is lonely and claustrophobic. Her letters are read by censors and she must hide her notes and photographs not only from her minders but also from her colleagues, evangelical Christian missionaries, whose faith she does not share.

As the weeks pass she discovers how easily her students lie, and how total is their obedience to Kim Jong-il. She also, bravely, hints at the existence of a world beyond their own: the internet, free travel, democracy, and other ideas forbidden in a country where torture and execution are commonplace. Yet her pupils are also full of boyish enthusiasm, with flashes of curiosity not yet extinguished.

Without You, There Is No Us offers a moving and incalculably rare glimpse of life inside the world’s most inscrutable country.

LKL says:

At the end of the day, Without You is a pleasant, interesting read, but not a game changer. What it does do, rather like John Everard’s Only Beautiful Please, is to introduce us to North Koreans as human beings, and for that it is to be welcomed.

LKL rating: score-2score-2score-1score-0score-0. Read our review of this book here.

Entry on Goodreads.com here.

* Where the book is available from a number of sources, they are prioritised as follows: (1) Amazon UK site, or Bookshop.org for the more recent uploads (2) Amazon US site (3) Other sites in US or Europe, including second-hand outlets (4) LTI Korea, where the title is advertised as available from there (5) Onlines stores in Korea. Links to Bookshop.org and Amazon UK site contain an affiliate code which, should you make a purchase, gives a small commission to LKL at no additional cost to you.