May 16, 2022

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Broken English in Pyongyang: A Review of Without You, There is No Us

Suki Kim's memoir provides rare dose of information on a closed society

During one trip to North Korea one of my minders, a man in his 40s suddenly asked, “Have you been to South Korea?” No one else was within earshot. Tour officials collect visitors’ passports for the duration of the trip so they are well-aware of every visitor’s travel history.

I said “Yes,” knowing we were drifting off course politically. He responded, “And what is the difference?” Long pause. I didn’t know how to reply and hesitated, not wanting to be flip by answering, “Oh, about 60 years.”