Unveiling the hermit kingdom; The hidden world of North Korea


North Korea has been headlining the news following the death of Kim Jong Il and the announcement of his successor, youngest son 28 year old Kim Jong Un.

The former Supreme Leader of North Korea’s death was announced on 17 December 2011 with extraordinary footage of public outpourings of grief and parades of military strength not seen since the heyday of the former USSR. All framed against a backdrop of famine, which has claimed the lives of millions.  This is a complex country now run by a young man with little to zero experience, whose grandfather, Kim Il Sung (The Eternal President) is still the official president despite having passed away in 1994.

Relations with South Korea have been fractious. There is a long history of US involvement, from its involvement in the North/South war in the ’50s, to more recently Bush declaring North Korea as part of the axis of evil and increased pressure to control their nuclear program through sanctions. We’ve put together some titles that explain the history, key developments, first-hand experience, and final round up from some of the best and authoritative voices. 

£6.99 Seven Stories Press
North Korea/ South Korea
U.S Policy & the Korean Peninsula
By John Feffer

Written in 2003 shortly after Bush announced North Korea as part of the axis of evil, Feffer offers a comprehensive short outline of the history and political complexities of the Korean Peninsula and explains why the US was and still is on the brink of nuclear war.  

£9.99 The New Press

Inventing the Axis of Evil 
The truth about North Korea, Iran and Syria
Edited by Bruce Cumings, Ervand Abrahamian, Moshe Ma’Oz

Described by Nation as ‘an authoritative and innovative primer on countries caught in the cross hairs of the Bush administration’, three experts take a close look into the hysteria generated about those elusive Weapons of Mass Destruction with particular reference to North Korea and their nuclear armaments program, now in the hands of a 28 year old man whose aptitude for nuclear engagement has yet to be defined. 

£16.99 Feral House
The Ministry of Truth
Kim Jong Il’s North Korea
By Christian Kracht, Eva Munz 
& Lukas Nikol

Each year a select group of tourists are allowed into the capital. The group is shown around, only seeing that which the regime allows.  Actors often represent pedestrians, and the consumer goods seen in stores are not available to the public. The Ministry of Truth offers a view of Korea as a giant installation, scripted and executed by Kim Jong Il to further cloud the truth about one of the world’s most oppressive nations.

£14.99 Melville House Publishing
The Cleanest Race
How North Koreans see themselves – and why it matters
By B.R. Meyers

A very current and balanced overview of North Korea, its philosophy, culture and politics.  Originally published in hardback in 2010, now fully revised and updated following recent developments, B.R Myers an analyst of North Korean politics, argues that there is more discourse on North Korea’s nuclear programme than the motivation behind it. Drawing on decades worth of research on Worker’s Party ideology and propaganda, Myers shows how Kim Jong-il’s regime is guided by a paranoid, race-based nationalism with roots in Japanese fascist thought.

‘Electrifying, finely argued and brilliantly written, the illustrations are an education in itself’ – Christopher Hitchens

‘Myers renders great service to the global foreign policy establishment with his lucid and well documented psychological profile on North Korean policy. It should be mandatory reading for all the stake holder leaders particularly the American establishment who feel compelled to deal with North korea.’ – Senator Mike Gravel

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