Barbara Demick’s book, Nothing to Envy: Real Lives in North Korea, provides a rare glimpse into a country that has been shut off from the rest of the world since the 1950s. Out of the one-hundred North Korean defectors she interviewed as part of her reporting for the L.A. Times, Demick weaves together the stories of six North Koreans: Mi-ran, Jun-Sung, Dr. Kim, Mrs. Song, Kim Hyuck and Oak-hee, who risked their lives to be free of the country’s oppression—often at the cost of leaving loved-ones behind to uncertain and even tragic fates. At times, the chilling accounts of brainwashing, economic turmoil, famine, paranoia and horrific human rights violations given by the individuals in the book seem straight out of dystopian fiction in the vein of 1984, A Brave New World and the Hunger Games.
Read reviews of Nothing to Envy from the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, and NPR’s All Things Considered. The Official Nothing to Fear website includes an author biography and more of the author’s photographs of life in North Korea that are not featured in the book. For more information about North Korea, see the country’s entry in the CIA World Factbook and the BBC World News country profile, which includes a timeline of events since the end of the Second World War.