December 10, 2022

About the author

Alek Sigley

Alek Sigley is a PhD student at Stanford University's Modern Thought and Literature program, where he is writing a dissertation on North Korea. From 2018-2019 he studied for a master's degree in contemporary North Korean fiction at Kim Il Sung University's College of Literature. He speaks Mandarin, Korean and Japanese. Follow him on Twitter @AlekSigley.

More articles by 'Alek Sigley'

Pyongyang chronicles: Why the DPRK is no fan of ‘The Lord of the Rings’

Pyongyang chronicles: Why the DPRK is no fan of ‘The Lord of the Rings’

All education must be revolutionary, and Kim Il Sung University instructors had no time for fantasies of Middle Earth

Pyongyang chronicles: Why the DPRK is no fan of ‘The Lord of the Rings’
Alek Sigley
Alek Sigley November 28, 2022
Pyongyang chronicles: Late-night mahjong and K-pop at the DPRK’s top university

Pyongyang chronicles: Late-night mahjong and K-pop at the DPRK’s top university

Foreign students’ lives in North Korea can vary dramatically based on where they’re from — and how much money they have

Pyongyang chronicles: Late-night mahjong and K-pop at the DPRK’s top university
Alek Sigley
Alek Sigley November 11, 2022
Ask a North Korean: What is retirement like for the elderly?

Ask a North Korean: What is retirement like for the elderly?

Most retirees fend for themselves and eek out a living at marketplaces due to collapse of public distribution system

Ask a North Korean: What is retirement like for the elderly?
Alek Sigley
Alek Sigley November 9, 2022
Pyongyang chronicles: The privileges of life as a foreign student in North Korea

Pyongyang chronicles: The privileges of life as a foreign student in North Korea

Students enjoy wider access than almost all other outsiders, but they can still run afoul of DPRK authorities

Pyongyang chronicles: The privileges of life as a foreign student in North Korea
Alek Sigley
Alek Sigley October 17, 2022
Ask a North Korean: What are toilets like in the DPRK?

Ask a North Korean: What are toilets like in the DPRK?

Public restrooms and toilet paper are in short supply, while expense of flush toilets results in a porcelain ‘hierarchy’

Ask a North Korean: What are toilets like in the DPRK?
Alek Sigley
Alek Sigley July 29, 2022
Ask a North Korean: What do North Koreans think about different car brands?

Ask a North Korean: What do North Koreans think about different car brands?

Defector from an elite family explains the DPRK’s love of foreign cars, why so many drive wood-powered vehicles and more

Ask a North Korean: What do North Koreans think about different car brands?
Alek Sigley
Alek Sigley March 4, 2022
Ask a North Korean: How do North Koreans get a driver’s license?

Ask a North Korean: How do North Koreans get a driver’s license?

Fuel shortages mean most get little driving practice before hitting the road, but there are ways to cheat the system

Ask a North Korean: How do North Koreans get a driver’s license?
Alek Sigley
Alek Sigley January 19, 2022
Ask a North Korean: Do North Koreans like to go camping?

Ask a North Korean: Do North Koreans like to go camping?

Travel restrictions mostly rule out leisure camping, but there are other ways people spend time in the great outdoors

Ask a North Korean: Do North Koreans like to go camping?
Alek Sigley
Alek Sigley December 30, 2021
Ask a North Korean: What do North Koreans think of regime sympathizers?

Ask a North Korean: What do North Koreans think of regime sympathizers?

Former Pyongyang elite says few care about overseas supporters and responds to those who doubt defector stories

Ask a North Korean: What do North Koreans think of regime sympathizers?
Alek Sigley
Alek Sigley December 1, 2021
Ask a North Korean: What do North Koreans think about traveling abroad?

Ask a North Korean: What do North Koreans think about traveling abroad?

Visiting another country is an unattainable dream for most, but there are ways for a fortunate few to holiday overseas

Ask a North Korean: What do North Koreans think about traveling abroad?
Alek Sigley
Alek Sigley November 4, 2021