What We Are Reading Today: Nothing to Envy: Real Lives in North Korea, by Barbara Demick

Updated 11 May 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: Nothing to Envy: Real Lives in North Korea, by Barbara Demick

This is often referred to as the book you must read on North Korea if you only choose one.

It is based on interviews with refugees from Chongjin, an industrial city in the north of the country.

The award-winning text, by the Los Angeles Times journalist who oversaw the newspaper’s bureaus in both Seoul and Beijing, follows the lives of six people in a city completely off limits to outsiders.

It spans the chaotic years in which the Orwellian regime’s first leader, Kim Il Sung, died and his son Kim Jong Il rose to power.

It includes details of the devastating effects of a famine that is thought to have killed 20 percent of the population.

Rather than focusing on the geopolitics and the nuclear program, Nothing to Envy shows the reader the everyday lives of ordinary people living within one of the world’s most repressive regimes. 


What We Are Watching Today: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised 

Updated 21 May 2018
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What We Are Watching Today: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised 

In Venezuela, where elections took place on Sunday, the legacy of the late firebrand socialist leader Hugo Chavez still dominates the country.

President Nicolas Maduro was the hand-picked successor to Chavez and campaigns on a platform of continuing the “Chavismo” policies.

Those policies have plunged the country into a deep economic crisis, despite it having some of the world’s largest oil reserves.

“The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” is a 2003 documentary, which was filmed by an Irish crew, in the buildup to and during an attempted coup against Chavez in 2002.

It focuses on the role of the private media and the coverage of violent protests.

While it has been accused of pro-Chavez bias, the filmmakers’ close proximity to the unfolding events gives an uncomfortable view of the political schisms that threaten to tear Venezuela apart.