Nothing To Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

Barbara Demick

Overview: Nothing To Envy uses the experiences of six North Korean defectors to address the extremes and difficulties of everyday life under the totalitarian regimes of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il. There are compelling glimpses into the extraordinary challenges of everyday life that get magnified by systemic socio-economic failure as the country is engulfed by famine and unemployment. Constructive insights are derived into the consuming power of propaganda, the role of guilt in daily life, and the paralyzing fear of falling farther out of favor. Society is scripted by radios and televisions that only transmit government messages and the daily homage given to portraits of the father and son. Ultimately, it is through courage, deception, persistence and luck that some are able to escape the ravages of North Korean tyranny only to discover that additional challenging consequences await them and their families.