Living in North Korea

Living in North Korea: ISBN 978-1-68282-475-7/ eBook: 978-1-68282-476-4
School Library Connection, Jan/Feb 2019

This timely book introduces readers to what life is like inside North Korea for ordinary citizens. Chapters focus on family, school, work, and social life. Like other books, this one details the authoritarian Kim regime but also describes how it impacts everyday life in ways young readers will understand. For example, Allen writes about the meager family meals most citizens are forced to eat compared to what is made available to the powerful. The chapter on school explains the amount of time spent on political education. Most staggering is the class structure based on loyalty that can impact a family for generations. Allen offers a stark contrast to what North Korean state media portrays and vividly shows how government messaging is crammed into every part of daily life. Personal stories from defectors underline the oppressive and dangerous world North Koreans must navigate to survive. This book reads more like a modern dystopian novel than a country profile and will be useful for research assignments. Additional Resources. Index. Source Notes.
—Cathy DeCampli, Emerging Technology Librarian, Haddonfield (New Jersey) Public Library

Living in North Korea: ISBN 978-1-68282-475-7 / eBook: 978-1-68282-476-4
Kirkus Reviews, October 20, 2018

The struggle to survive in North Korea is surveyed in this overview of that secretive country currently in the news. Chapter by chapter, this useful research source describes the totalitarian government and the family, school, work, social, and political spheres. Bolstered by quotes from defectors and scholars in the field, the author combines telling statistics (though without comparisons that might foster greater understanding) with loaded language such as "paranoid desire" and "slavishly." The historical background offered is limited to the 20th century, briefly mentioning the Japanese occupation and focusing on the post-Korean War years. There are clear descriptions of the philosophy of juche, the songbun social class system, gray markets, and other aspects of North Korean life. Allen's (Thinking Critically: Terrorism, 2018, etc.) exposition is clear and well-organized and his information well-documented in web sources that can also be accessed by the reader seeking further information. The design is appealing with legible text broken up with appropriate headings, color photographs, and pullout boxes highlighting and repeating quotations. Sidebars include longer quotations from other sources on subjects such as "Respect for Authority in a North Korean School," "Schools for Hackers," and "Crystal Meth as a Diet Drug." Timely and accessible, this will be a useful addition to school and public libraries. (source notes, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 12-16)