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North Korea is like no other tyranny on Earth. Its citizens are told their home is the greatest nation in the world, and Big Brother is always watching. It is Orwell's 1984 made reality.
Award-winning BBC journalist John Sweeney is one of the few foreign journalists to have witnessed the devastating reality of life in the controversial and isolated nation of North Korea. Having entered the country undercover, Sweeny posed as a university professor with a group of students from the London School of Economics.
Huge factories with no staff or electricity, hospitals with no patients, uniformed child soldiers, and the world-famous and eerily empty DMZ - the Demilitarized Zone, where North Korea ends and South Korea begins - are all framed by a relentless flow of regime propaganda from omnipresent loudspeakers. Free speech is an illusion: One word out of line, and the gulag awaits. State spies are everywhere, ready to punish disloyalty at the slightest sign of discontent.
Drawing on his own experiences and his extensive interviews with defectors and other key witnesses, Sweeney's North Korea Undercover pulls back the curtain, providing a rare insight into life there today while examining the country's troubled history and addressing important questions about its uncertain future.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Kevin Stokes on 09-09-15
Highly listenable, humorous and enlightening
For many years I've heard odd news from North Korea. I was curious enough to examine North Korea vs South Korea on google maps and was amazed at the differences. Clearly North Korea seemed like it was a bit crazy so I wanted learn what made it tick.
The author travels through North Korea as part of a tour, escorted always by the two government appointed handlers. In between humorous interludes as things don't always make the impression that the handlers intend, Sweeney goes into history and information to other sources to explain the odd behavior of the people. In particular, by the end of the book I finally understood that the government has actually accomplished an amazing feat. They have used specific techniques to make the people actually and truly love the rulers which kill them and starve them while living an opulent lifestyle themselves. And this isn't just that the people have learned to pretend. They actually feel deep affection, and even those that escape across the border have trouble shedding their deep beliefs.
I also learned that they feel that the USA is their biggest enemy, and that fantasizing about killing our soldiers and defeating us in battle is a great source of entertainment for them. This seemed odd to me, since I don't think Americans think much about North Korea at all. Sweeney does a great job of why this is.
Overall, I enjoyed this book very much. Sweeney has a snarky wit, and compassion for the people who are caught up in the insanity.
21 of 24 people found this review helpful
By jonathan meharg on 05-10-16
Sad and shocking.
This is one of the best books about North Korea I've ever read. It was very informative and at times very funny. This is one of the more eye opening books I've ever read. The narrator does an amazing job also.
10 of 12 people found this review helpful