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Without You There Is No Us

My Time With the Sons of North Korea’s Elite

Von Suki Kim
16 Minuten
Without You There Is No Us: My Time With the Sons of North Korea’s Elite von Suki Kim

North Korea is a closed society into which very few people are able to peek. This book is the story of an American journalist who got into the country by posing as an English teacher. She recounts her astonishing experiences and paints a very human picture of the country that so few are privileged to see. The phrase “Without You There Is No Us” comes from a chilling patriotic hymn sung twice a day, every day by the author’s students, expressing their devotion to their Great Leader,  Kim Jong-il.

  • Anyone intrigued by this enigmatic country
  • Anyone interested in a first-hand account by a person who actually lived in North Korea
  • Anyone who wants to learn more about North Korea’s cruel and unusual treatment of its citizens

Suki Kim is a Korean-American journalist, writer and scholar. Her debut novel, The Interpreter, won the PEN Beyond Margins Award. To write this book, she lived in the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea as an English teacher at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology.

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Without You There Is No Us

My Time With the Sons of North Korea’s Elite

Von Suki Kim
  • Lesedauer: 16 Minuten
  • 10 Kernaussagen
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Without You There Is No Us: My Time With the Sons of North Korea’s Elite von Suki Kim
Worum geht's

North Korea is a closed society into which very few people are able to peek. This book is the story of an American journalist who got into the country by posing as an English teacher. She recounts her astonishing experiences and paints a very human picture of the country that so few are privileged to see. The phrase “Without You There Is No Us” comes from a chilling patriotic hymn sung twice a day, every day by the author’s students, expressing their devotion to their Great Leader,  Kim Jong-il.

Kernaussage 1 von 10

It’s extremely difficult to get into North Korea.

The first problem with investigating the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is getting in. Suki Kim had an interesting strategy: she went in with a group of missionaries, disguised as a volunteer English teacher.

If the North Korean authorities had known she was actually a Western journalist, they never would’ve allowed her into the country. Very few tourists are allowed in, and it’s especially difficult if you’re South Korean or American – the United States is the “imperialist enemy,” after all.

On average, fewer than 2,000 Westerners are granted access each year, and visas – as you might’ve guessed – are quite difficult to come by.

It takes a very long time to process a North Korean visa because it has to be approved by so many people. Even after Kim’s visa was approved, 35 North Korean government agencies had to stamp it before it could be released.

There’s another problem, too: you have to get your visa from a North Korean embassy or consulate, but very few countries have them, so you need help from a country that does. American citizens have to go all the way to Beijing to get their visas!

North Korean visas are also typically issued just before the visitor’s trip is supposed to start. Kim was approved as a teacher for the summer semester of 2011, but didn’t get her visa until late June. Her lessons started on 4 July, so she was in quite a rush. You can’t buy your plane tickets until you have your visa, so after the long wait, you have to hurry up to get there on time.

Once you get there, the craziness has only just begun.

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