Nothing to Envy

Nothing to Envy

Ordinary Lives in North Korea

Book - 2010
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Publisher: New York : Spiegel & Grau, c2010
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780385523905
Branch Call Number: 306.0951 Demi
Characteristics: xii, 314 p. : ill.


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

cals_readers Dec 13, 2017

Personal narratives of six defectors from the Republic of North Korea. Contrasts the reality of daily suffering and famine under tyranny with the grandiose images of their propaganda.

Nov 01, 2017

"Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea" by Barbara Demick is an oral history of North Koreans who managed to settle in South Korea. It's reads as a biography of about a dozen people whom we first meet in the early '90s. The cohort experience the severe North Korean famine of the mid-90s. They then leave North Korea in the late '90s and early 2000s. Demick collected the stories from interviews conducted in South Korea from about 2005 to 2010. Worth the read.

Sep 21, 2017

Heartbreaking stories from defectors of North Korea. This book is really great if you are interested in learning about the country and the true lives of people under a complete Dictator.

Jun 13, 2017

This book takes us into the lives of 6 North Koreans during the great famine of the 90's. This is something that everyone could benefit from reading; if only to be made more grateful for the lives we have. The book is inspiring and shocking.

Jan 14, 2017

This is a very interesting book on how the reign of a few tyrants can completely destroy a countries people, economy and lifestyle. I think it might make it worse for those that remember what life was before the current regime or those who immigrated into this country, which seems crazy now but was apparently considered a good prospect at one time.
If you have grown up knowing nothing but this type of poverty I imagine it will be difficult to assimilate into a capitalist type society, which the author does address a little at the end of the book with the interviewees and what the South Korean government does to help now.
Not being a stranger to literature and commentary on the difficulties of the people in other communist countries, nor even the plight of this particular country, it did enlighten me in just how controlling the government is here and how hard it is for the average person to live. It made for a compelling read.

Jan 02, 2017

Outstanding! I read it in four days. This is Orwell's "1984" in nightmarish detail-and it's real.

NinaAlt Sep 24, 2016

An upcoming trip to south korea urged me to read up on the country's history and I am so glad I did. This is a fascinating book giving you a glimpse into what it was like during the famine in the 90's and what it probably still is like to live in north korea in 2016. it's heartbreaking to read people's stories and inspiring that despite their circumstances, they managed to turn their life around completely. an absolutely inspiring read!

martins_mom Jul 25, 2016

Amazing that all of this was going on and the information lockdown made it impossible to know about it. Stories of starving schoolchildren and desperate adults are heartbreaking. Demick has done a great job of synthesizing the period.

May 13, 2016

I found the accounts of day to day life in North Korea fascinating because of how little I know about the lives of its citizens. The book is an incredible window into what happens when things break down: the fabric of society fails, autocrats dig in, and people are forced to survive through some combination of ingenuity, preservation, and luck.

Aug 07, 2015

Prior to borrowing this title from the library, I'd had only the vaguest idea of what life appeared to be like in North Korea: urban areas were drab and purely utilitarian, its citizens were indoctrinated to revere their leaders as divine, and the leaders themselves were not only nutty but dangerous. The greater reality, at least by the collective accounts of defectors, is even more strikingly shocking and dismal. The severity of famine, the degree of state surveillance, the ways in which citizens are encouraged to police one another, and the permanent psychological and physical damage being done to generations of Koreans made me want to weep. Barbara Demick has written a powerful, infuriating and heartbreaking book.

View All Comments


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at CHPL

To Top