Barbara Demick’s Nothing
to Envy follows the lives of six North Koreans over fifteen years—a chaotic
period that saw the death of Kim Il-sung and the unchallenged rise to power of
his son, Kim Jong-il, and the devastation of a far-ranging famine that killed
one-fifth of the population. Taking us into a landscape never before seen, Demick
brings to life what it means to be an average Korean citizen, living under the
most repressive totalitarian regime today—an Orwellian world in which radio and
television dials are welded to the one government station, a country that is by
choice not connected to the Internet, a society in which outward displays of
affection are punished, and a police state that rewards informants and where an
offhanded remark can send a citizen to the gulag for life.
Demick’s subjects—a middle-aged party loyalist and her
rebellious daughter, an idealistic female doctor, an orphan, and two young
lovers—all hail from the same provincial city in the farthest-flung northern
reaches of the country. One by one, we witness the moments of revelation, when
each realizes that they have been betrayed by the Fatherland and that their
suffering is not a global condition but is uniquely theirs.
Nothing to Envy is
the first book about North Korea to go deep inside the country, beyond the
reach of government censors, and penetrate the mind-set of the average citizen.
It is a groundbreaking and essential addition to the literature of
totalitarianism. Download and start listening now!