Monday, December 8, 2014

Without You, There Is No Us: My Time With the Sons of North Korea's Elite

Suki Kim spends six months in North Korea teaching English to the children of the upper class in the country. Her experiences in North Korea frustrate her and sadden her, and she feels compelled to write about her time in this country that keeps much hidden from the world.



In 2011 North Korea closes all universities except for Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, where Kim teaches.  Students from the other universities spend the year they cannot attend school working in the construction fields. As a result, Kim's students are those of the upper class in North Korea, from families that can afford to keep their sons out of the construction fields.

Kim knows that her time in Korea is spent under the watchful eye of the regime. Her mail is censored, and what she tells her students could be reported back at any time.  Teachers have been warned not to brag or boast about their lives in the United States. This is nearly impossible as Kim compares the freedom she has in the US with how North Koreans live.

The news stories are old, there is no internet - only the intranet, which is also government controlled, and the electricity turns of multiple times each day.  

Kim enjoys her students but is amazed at the lies they tell, and can't ever feel safe or at ease.  She hides the USB stick where her notes are kept knowing that she will be in trouble if she is ever caught.

I was fascinated by this inside look at North Korea, and the way in which the people there live.

1 comment:

Anne Bennett said...

I hadn't heard of this book before this review. i read a similar book about: North Korea,Pyongyang : a journey in North Korea by Delisle. It is in the Graphic Biography style as Delisle is a cartoonist.