September 26, 2023

North Korea – by those who have lived there

Despite growing number of foreign residents, few books written about what it's like living in N. Korea

Having been lambasted in the pages of the Huffington Post and in somewhat more measured tones in the British House of Lords following my last essay on the British Council’s photographic exhibition, I now turn to what I hope is the safer world of books, specifically to writings about North Korea by those who have lived there.

One of the curiosities about North Korea is the massive number of books and articles that have been written about it by people who have not been there. Of course, this is not always the fault of the authors. The DPRK authorities are not generous towards visitors. The concept of visiting scholars seems non-existent and the tight controls applied to those who do visit produces at best a series of very similar blogs, or articles that could have been – and indeed sometimes were –written before the person concerned actually visited. North Korean officials will complain about negative writing but all too often they have only themselves to blame.