Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick
An eye opening account of life in North Korea, Nothing to Envy gives the reader a glimpse into a nation that has been closed to outsiders for decades. Through the lives of six ordinary individuals, we see the effects of Kim Il-Sung's totalitarian regime on every aspect of life in North Korea.
The individuals who shared their stories with the author had all survived the famine of the 1990's, and later escaped the prison-like existence in the hope of a better life in South Korea. Hearing about the "Arduous March" .... the slow deaths from starvation, the long term effects of severe starvation on the survivors, the refusal of Kim Jong-Il to let foreign aid reach the people .... heartbreakingly sad. As if life in North Korea had not already resembled life in a prison camp, they were now faced with daily deaths and mass burials.
We also see the dynamics of very different families, from diverse backgrounds, and how those lived before the famine, what they did to survive it, and how they deal with the guilt of what it took.