Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Review: Without You, There Is No Us by Suki Kim

Title: Without You, There Is No Us
Author: Suki Kim 
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Crown
Publish Date: October 14, 2014
Source: Library

What's the Story?:

From "Every day, three times a day, the students march in two straight lines, singing praises to Kim Jong-il and North Korea: Without you, there is no motherland. Without you, there is no us. It is a chilling scene, but gradually Suki Kim, too, learns the tune and, without noticing, begins to hum it. It is 2011, and all universities in North Korea have been shut down for an entire year, the students sent to construction fields—except for the 270 students at the all-male Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST), a walled compound where portraits of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il look on impassively from the walls of every room, and where Suki has accepted a job teaching English. Over the next six months, she will eat three meals a day with her young charges and struggle to teach them to write, all under the watchful eye of the regime."

My Two Cents:

Suki Kim is a writer that has the opportunity to go teach English at a university for the the children of the North Korean elite. The position comes with a list of very strict (and bizarre) rules. Kim decides to make the best of it and enters a world where the strange is real (but you better not talk about it too much).

I read a lot about North Korea. It seems like such an interesting place and one that is really hard to fathom, especially compared to all of the other places that I've been. This book is unique in that it focuses a lot on the author's reflections and how all of the different things that she saw made her feel. To some degree, I wish she would have talked a little more about what was going on on this campus but overall, you get a good taste of what this university and its students were like. The students come from some of the most well liked North Korean families so their experiences seem to be much more sheltered than some of the other North Korean experiences that I have read about.

This book gives a unique perspective and was well written!


1 comment:

  1. I listened to this book and found it fascinating. Great window on the weird world of North Korea.


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