A curious & compelling short book by South Korean journalist & writer Su-jin Chun. It could easily have been double-speak drivel about how North Korean women are the ultimate divas or outriders of modern feminism, but it is actually a mixed-bag on the isolated regime’s complex politics, sometimes yielding troves of esoteric details on the inner-workings & origins of Pyongyang’s ruling elite & the Kim saga.
It starts very trivially, flush with frivolity & looking like it will be a “puff piece” from a foreign regime apologist with her hands in the trifle dish. But beyond the balancing act (overly critical or confrontational standing on North Korea would mean exclusion & non-cooperation from the Hermit Kingdom for any journalist trying to cover it accurately), it is not long before the scribe starts delivering the gems. & in a sense, that is what the book provides & consists of, some very valuable, nuanced & rare information on North Korea & it’s ruling dynasty. The book therefore acts more as a valuable auxiliary or tributary of source material. It’s curious angle & the experience of the author mean that it will be a precious reference for those au fait with North Korean politics & the “Pyongyang power hierarchy” as Su-jin puts it.
I doubt this book & the specialised research herein will appeal to many that are not already heavily invested in the subject with prior knowledge & investigation.
But for those that are, or have an uncommon intrigue or allure for either North Korea, or despotic dynasties & the social & political phenomena, psychology & characteristics of rogue states, this is an eye-opener with some important observations & rarely discussed or highlighted facts.
Chun Su-jin, 2022, Hollym, 161 pages