June 14th, 2009

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Linkspam for 14-6-2009

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June Books 8) Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea, by Guy Delisle

I very much enjoyed Delisle's book about Burma, but was disappointed in this. Some of the oddities he describes (cavernously empty restaurants with fictional menus and crap service, frenetically alcoholic international NGO workers) are entirely familiar to me from my time in the Balkans and could happen anywhere in the world where there is or has recently been a crisis. His description of the Koreans he actually meets is patronising rather than sympathetic; he somehow got the balance better in Burma. I would have liked to know a bit more about the economics of film animation that led to a Québecois cartoonist ending up in Pyongyang in the first place, but that remains a mystery. The situation in North Korea is clearly awful for its inhabitants and potentially dangerous for the rest of us, but I didn't get the insights I had hoped for from this book.