North Korea; haunting stories that will make you realise your life is pretty damn good


For today’s post, I thought I would venture away from the usual beauty posts, and share with you some of the books I’ve enjoyed recently.

This year I haven’t had much of a chance to read because my hands have been pretty full with work and a new baby.

However, there have been a few books that I have managed to find the time to enjoy, and most of them have been on North Korea.

Most of these books are written by defectors who have managed to escape what has become the most secretive country on earth. I find their stories truly amazing. Reading about what these people have faced really puts life’s little problems into perspective.

For those who have read George Orwell’s classic 1984, the horrors of North Korea are almost a direct parallel. Constant surveillance, lack of independent thought, public manipulation, fear and oppression.

Led by Kim Jong-Un – a leader who will be forever remembered for calling Trump a “dotard” – North Korea’s citizens are entirely disconnected from the rest of the world. Yet despite this over the years defectors and those granted entry into North Korea have helped to lift the lid on the country’s politics and the day-to-day life its citizens endure.

Here’s a selection of some of the best books I’ve read on North Korea so far.


Without You There Is No Us, Suki Kim

This is the most recent book on North Korea I have read to date, and one I found the most fascinating.

Born and raised in Seoul and currently living in New York as a writer and journalist, Kim disguises herself as a teacher and Christian missionary to work at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, a university for the sons of the elite.

For six months she is confined to the university with only occasional monitored trips outside of the university’s walls. During this time her students slowly reveal to her the harsh reality of their life and their unwavering belief in the regime.

Escape from Camp 14, Blaine Harden

Escape from Camp 14 is a harrowing testimony of Shin Dong-hyuk’s life in the gulag, and his daring escape, not just from the camp, but also from totalitarian North Korea. Born in the prison camp, this gripping page-turner outlines Shin’s day-to-day existence and the depth of despair and misery thousands of North Koreans find themselves in.

Shin is reportedly the only prisoner to successfully escape the gulag and find his way to safety in South Korea, where he now lives. He gives talks around the globe about the North Korean regime and his life inside the notorious Camp 14.

The Accusation, Bandi

Beautifully written and vividly characterised short stories that have been snuck out from North Korea. The writer is known only as Bandi, an anonymous dissident who is still believed to be living in North Korea.

The haunting stories plunge you into the daily life of ordinary families and survivors and highlight the constant paranoia North Korea’s citizens are forced to live under.



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