I love a book that makes me think. This memoir, written by an American reporter of South Korean birth, posing as a teacher, and then volunteering to teach English at a North Korean school was fascinating and chilling. There is so much turmoil in America today, people so willing to give voice to the ills of our society (and some rightly observed), but the difference between what is tolerated in America and what is reported as tolerated in North Korea is stark. For me, living without access to my family, to freely go where I wish to, to read what I want, eat the foods of my choosing, or to pop onto the internet, would be a totally flummoxing, unfamiliar experience. Suki Kim's recounting of her times in North Korea, and other memoirs of time spent by westerners in oppressed countries (Guy Delisle's Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea, Yasmina Khadra's The Swallows of Kabul, or Azar Nafisi's Reading Lolita in Tehran both come to mind) remind me of how much I take for granted. They also remind me of how little I know (even as an educated woman) of the rest of the world. Thankfully, I have the freedom to read books to become more educated.
Interestingly enough, this book's publication and pre-publication publicity corresponded with the breach of information at Sony, so as a result, I saw and heard a lot of the author on radio and television, which only whetted my appetite to read the book. Many thanks to Blogging for Books and the publisher for sending me a copy.