Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Great New Books on North Korea

The New York Times has a review of three new books about North Korea -- Brian Myers' THE CLEANEST RACE, Barbara Demick's NOTHING TO ENVY and Ralph Hassig and Kongdan Oh's THE HIDDEN PEOPLE OF NORTH KOREA. Not an all-encompassing review, but a decent overview of three interesting books.

Barbara was the LA Times' correspondent in Korea for several years, and is definitely a first-rate journalist, thinker, and writer. I have not read her book, but assume it is as solid as everything else she has done. There is also a good article on her book (and Myers') at Salon. Demick's NOTHING TO ENVY is available for purchase here.

Myers I know from his lectures at the Royal Asiatic Society and the occasional email. He has a very provocative thesis -- that North Korea is in no way Communist, Marxist, (certainly not Stalinist), Confucian or any of those typical labels, but is in fact a completely nationalism/race-based ideology derived from Japanese propaganda from colonial times. Very fun stuff. THE CLEANEST RACE is available at Amazon, of course. Here is an excerpt from his book. Kurt Achin (Voice of America) also profiles Myers' book here, with an audio version here.

* (Hey! Myers' got Andre Lankov to write a blurb for his book, too. Great minds think alike. Andre wrote a little something for the back of POP GOES KOREA, too. Many thanks Andre).

Sorry, but I do not know anything about THE HIDDEN PEOPLE OF NORTH KOREA or its authors, but I hope to check that book out, too, before too long.

1 comment:

A. Greenwick said...

I have read "Nothing to Envy." It is an excellent book that details the lives of five people who escaped from North Korea. I wanted to know about the actual culture of North Koreans, and was frustrated that I couldn't find anything. I found her book by chance, and it filled in so many holes.