September - World Book #9 - Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

I recently came across this book that had been getting amazing reviews, and fit in very well with our theme of Around the World in 13 Books.  In the past, books about strict political societies have led to very interesting discussions, and I hope the same is true of this one!


Award-winning journalist Barbara Demick follows the lives of six North Korean citizens over fifteen years—a chaotic period that saw the death of Kim Il-sung, the rise to power of his son Kim Jong-il, and a devastating famine that killed one-fifth of the population. Demick brings to life what it means to be living under the most repressive totalitarian regime today—an Orwellian world that is by choice not connected to the Internet, where displays of affection are punished, informants are rewarded, and an offhand remark can send a person to the gulag for life. Demick takes us deep inside the country, beyond the reach of government censors, and through meticulous and sensitive reporting we see her subjects fall in love, raise families, nurture ambitions, and struggle for survival. One by one, we witness their profound, life-altering disillusionment with the government and their realization that, rather than providing them with lives of abundance, their country has betrayed them.

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  • Rosemary

    Sorry for the late notification! Attendence depended on getting a project finished.

    September 9, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    If you like, please visit the website of Soonja's cuisine: They have some Japanese and Chinese dishes, but Korean dishes may not be familiar to many. There is an e-mail address with any questions. I recommend Tofu Stew which comes with three different types of meat of your choice, fish/chicken/beef in mild or spicy. Every restaurant makes it differently, and I don't know how well they make it here, but that is the one I usually like. They have fried rice which is called Bibipbop. The menu pretty much describes what the dish contains. The restaurant sound like it services high quality selections.

    September 8, 2013

    • Deepa

      Thanks Joan. I am not going to say Soonja is the absolute most authetic Korean food I have had, but the last couple of times, the bulgogi, bibimbap and soondobugigae were tasty. Hopefully everyone will find something they like!

      September 8, 2013

  • Deepa

    Good news! The Korean restaurant was able to seat our group! We'll be meeting at Soonja cuisine on Alexander Road in Princeton, west of Route 1 and just east of the campus near the Dinky station. Look forward to it!

    September 7, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I think there are several options of Korean restaurants in Edison area, but I don't know any around Princeton area. I am willing to travel to Edison area. One restaurant I can recommend in the Edison area is typed below, not that I am suggesting it as it appears the location maybe a bit too far, but maybe I can treat the organizer to lunch one weekend afternoon as I am grateful to her for introducing this book to me as I am personally connected to the content of the story. (-: If anyone wants to join, welcome. Keum Ho Jung

    518 Old Post Rd, Edison, NJ 08817
    Cross Streets: Between US-1 and Vineyard Rd

    September 5, 2013

    • Deepa

      Thanks Joan. The restaurant I'm trying for is Soonja on Alexander Rd in Princeton, but it's not looking promising because of the size of our group. I'll keep you posted!

      September 5, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    How about somewhere in Central Jersey as the location? I am planning to attend pending that the driving time does not exceed 45 minutes.

    August 17, 2013

    • Deepa

      Hi joan - our standard location is Tgi Fridays on Rte 1 in Princeton. However, I'm looking to see if a korean restaurant nearby can accommodate us. I will update this week when I hear anything.

      September 2, 2013

  • Susan M.

    The back room of Panera restaurant on Nassau Street in Princeton holds about 12 to 15 . I'm not sure if you need to make a reservation.

    September 2, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I am from South Korea and left when I was very little. Like many others from my country, I am awaiting patiently and anxiously for the peaceful union between South and North Korea. I truly feel the pains of people living in that part of the area when I view the people through the lenses of media.

    July 27, 2013

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