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North Korea Confidential


North Korea is assumed to be a country where everyone worships a power-crazed dictator, where vitriolic disputes with neighbouring South Korea frequently erupt into violence, where nuclear bombs are detonated with alarming regularity, and where most people are perpetually on the verge of starvation. But what is life in North Korea really like?

In seven fascinating chapters the authors explore what life is actually like in modern North Korea today for the ordinary “man and woman on the street.” They interview experts and tap a broad variety of sources to bring a startling new insider’s view of North Korean society—from members of Pyongyang’s ruling families to defectors from different periods and regions, to diplomats and NGOs with years of experience in the country, to cross-border traders from neighboring China, and textual accounts appearing in English, Korean and Chinese sources.  

This book reveals that ordinary North Koreans, poor and rich alike, enjoy listening to K-pop music and are addicted to South Korean TV dramas—in direct contravention of the government’s dictates. Just as the 1950-53 Korean War created a new generation of South Korean over-achievers, the authors believe that the mid-1990s famine in North Korea has caused an important social and economic transformation in North Korea that will eventually spur its citizens to greater achievements. 

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