“Nothing To Envy!” The Horror Of Life In North Korea! Brilliant Book Looks At This Isolated Hell!

This image of N. Korea missiles being fired made me take another look at this oppressive, bankrupt regime…which begins every day this way:

“Our father, we have nothing to envy in the world.”

Those words are sung by schoolchildren all over North Korea, in reference to their “God”, their leader Kim Jong-Un…

A view of a parade to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the founding of the Workers' Party of Korea in Pyongyang in this October 10, 2010 file photo.  North Korean leader Kim Jong-il died on a train trip, state television reported on December 19, 2011 sparking immediate concern over who is in control of the reclusive state and its nuclear programme. A tearful announcer dressed in black said the 69-year old had died on December 17, 2011 of physical and mental over-work on his way to give "field guidance".    REUTERS/KCNA/Files (NORTH KOREA - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY ANNIVERSARY OBITUARY) NO THIRD PARTY SALES. NOT FOR USE BY REUTERS THIRD PARTY DISTRIBUTORS

A view of a parade to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the founding of the Workers’ Party of Korea in Pyongyang in this October 10, 2010 file photo. North Korean leader Kim Jong-il died on a train trip, state television reported on December 19, 2011 sparking immediate concern over who is in control of the reclusive state and its nuclear programme. A tearful announcer dressed in black said the 69-year old had died on December 17, 2011 of physical and mental over-work on his way to give “field guidance”. REUTERS/KCNA/Files (NORTH KOREA – Tags: POLITICS MILITARY ANNIVERSARY OBITUARY) NO THIRD PARTY SALES. NOT FOR USE BY REUTERS THIRD PARTY DISTRIBUTORS

Life In North Korea…

With so much news about North Korea lately, I wanted to share a book that take an inside look at the rarely-seen country…first, look at the majesty of this picture: a dramatic, elegant procession in North Korea…with a leader who is worshipped by his country – or so these “official” photos proclaim:

North Korea life

These are photos from Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea. Oh, if you were North Korean, you’d have to APPLY TO LIVE THERE, and you would most certainly be denied. That’s right, you must APPLY to live in North Korea’s capital city!

pyongyang north korea


The Never-Ending Hotel Construction!

If you were one of the three million residents, you could walk by The Ryugyong Hotel, a 105-story pyramid-shaped skyscraper under construction since 1987!

After 1992 the building stood topped out, but without any windows or interior fittings. In 2008 construction resumed. In 2011, the exterior was completed.

That is life in the nation;s capital.

Instead of living in this city, you would probably live like this:

North Korea living

North Korea starving children

nothing-to-envy

North Korea starvation

“Nothing To Envy!”

The world’s most impoverished country has been hit with a famine that has killed millions, and the vast majority of the country lives with no food, electricity, or heat. Here is a fascinating look at the horrific living conditions in the world’s most isolated nation.

Nothing to Envy book

I was riveted by this book, which tells the story of North Korea through the lives of several people who have managed to escape…the book was published in 2010, but is just as prescient today…

North Korea time zone story

It’s “Pyongyang Time!”

The country is not only isolated from the rest of the world, it continues to act up in ways that are beyond ridiculous. North Korea announced that it would permanently turn its clocks back half an hour on Aug. 15 and create its own “Pyongyang time.” In a typically bellicose state media announcement, North Korea said the move was timed to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Korean Peninsula from Japan, whose imperialist force had committed the “unpardonable crime” of depriving Korea of its rightful time zone!

Kim Jong Un

Kim Jong-Un “inherited” his leadership role from his father, and one of the greatest things about this powerful book is how it weaves the history of this impoverished nation with the shocking living conditions of the country’s 29 million people.

North Korea book

The book was written by Barbara Demick, who was the Beijing bureau chief of the LA Times. It’s a country where virtually nothing has changed in more than 50 years – a nation of crumbling buildings and mass starvation.

In this June 20, 2014 photo, North Korean people rest next to the railroad tracks in a town in North Korea's North Hamgyong province. The Associated Press was granted permission to embark on a weeklong road trip across North Korea to the country’s spiritual summit Mount Paektu. The trip was on North Korea's terms. An AP reporter and photographer couldn't interview ordinary people or wander off course, and government "minders" accompanied them the entire way. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)

In this June 20, 2014 photo, North Korean people rest next to the railroad tracks in a town in North Korea’s North Hamgyong province. The Associated Press was granted permission to embark on a weeklong road trip across North Korea to the country’s spiritual summit Mount Paektu. The trip was on North Korea’s terms. An AP reporter and photographer couldn’t interview ordinary people or wander off course, and government “minders” accompanied them the entire way. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)

A “Dark” Country!

One of the most fascinating aspects of this book is how to shows you “real” life in North Korea – virtually no jobs, no infrastructure, and almost no electricity. Look at this photo:

North Korea electricity outage

You can see the lights from all of the countries that surround North Korea. And the large black hole shows how the North Koreans have almost NO electricity, with the exception of the capital, which has barely any at all!

north-korean-traffic-police-no-cars

It’s almost impossible to comprehend: imagine living in a country that has almost no cars! There are virtually no stores to shop in, no jobs, and no food. The book tells the heartbreaking story of millions of North Koreans who started to death in the last famine.

Oh, and what about this:

North Korean television set

Applying For A TV!

That’s right, in North Korea you must apply to own a TV! The state controls the only two channels you can watch, and the television is “adjusted” so that you can’t watch anything else. And they will drop in for a “surprise” visit to ensure you haven’t tampered with the set, which has a seal to keep you from having access to anything other than what they want you to see!

Also, note the above photo: the ONLY pictures you are allowed to hang in your home are of Jong-Un and his late father!

North Korea living


“Harmonica Living!”

Of course, you don’t have money to buy posters anyway! Imagine living like this – here is an excerpt from the book describing how North Koreans live in the city:

“There is almost no signage, few motor vehicles. Private ownership of cars is largely illegal, not that anyone can afford them. You seldom even see tractors, only scraggly oxen dragging plows. The houses are simple, utilitarian, and monochromatic. There is little that predates the Korean War. Most of the housing stock was built in the 1960s and 1970s from cement block and limestone, doled out to people based on their job and rank. In the cities there are “pigeon coops,” one- room units in low- rise apartment buildings, while in the countryside, people typically live in single- story buildings called “harmonicas,” rows of one-room homes, stuck together like the little boxes that make up the chambers of a harmonica.”

North Korea housing

The title of the book comes from a children’s song – and speaks of a country’s love of their leader:

“Our father, we have nothing to envy in the world.
Our house is within the embrace of the Workers’ Party.
We are all brothers and sisters.
Even if a sea of fire comes toward us, sweet children do not need to be afraid, Our Father is here.
We have nothing to envy in the world.”

Nothing to Envy book

To see more about the book, here is the official website:

http://nothingtoenvy.com

It is a sobering look at a repressed country…through the lives of those who escaped – who had no idea how prosperous and modern South Korea had become:

Seoul South Korea

I was lucky enough to go to Seoul, South Korea with my co-workers at G4, and Host Morgan Webb actually made it to the DMZ!

Morgon Webb DMZ

Read the entire story of this great country by clicking here:

https://johnrieber.com/2013/07/10/seoul-food-bacon-hot-dogs-hanging-fish-a-delicious-korean-adventure/

I am fascinated by life in Asia – from South Korea to Japan, and of course, China – I have never visited, but this is a great look at life in that country:

china-book

Read all about the Author’s amazingly hilarious adventures in the world’s largest country:


https://johnrieber.com/2012/09/09/cannibals-savages-sex-and-great-walls-too-troost-troost-troost-great-adventure-travel/

One of the most fascinating things about China are the unique adventures that await you there….like this hiking trail:

extreme hiking trails

Read about China’s amazing dangerous trail by clicking here:


https://johnrieber.com/2015/07/11/worlds-most-dangerous-hiking-trail-cliffhanger-restaurants-chinas-extreme-adventures/

And if you want to talk a drive, look at this bridge that doesn’t go “across” the river, it goes along it!

China's amazing river highway

See my story on this unique highway by clicking here:

https://johnrieber.com/2015/02/28/amazing-china-highway-runs-over-length-of-river-wild-china-adventures/

And make sure you buy “Nothing To Envy” to read about real life in North Korea!

Nothing to Envy book



Categories: Books / Media, China, Exotic Travel, Food, Memoirs, Politics, Technology, Travel, Travel Adventures, Travel Memoir, Uncategorized, Wacky Food

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7 replies

  1. Absolutely phenomenal review John! It makes you realize how spoiled so many of us are in developed countries. The pictures are incredible but the two that really stood out were the two showing North Korea in the dark, while the surrounding countries are lit up. I’m definitely adding this to my TBR.

    • Thank you – I love travel books, especially those that show a lifestyle that is so different – in this case, all because of a repressive regime – it’s a great book and worth reading

  2. Would it be OK if I cross-posted this article to WriterBeat.com? I’ll be sure to give you complete credit as the author. There is no fee, I’m simply trying to add more con7tent diversity for our community and I liked what you wrote. If “OK” please respond via email.

    Autumn
    AutumnCote@WriterBeat.com

  3. Reblogged this on johnrieber and commented:

    Here is a look inside the isolated military state of North Korea

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  2. North Korea’s Legendary “Koryo” Burger! The Mystery Of A Mysterious Hamburger Revealed! – johnrieber

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