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Posts Tagged ‘Kim Jong-il’

Understanding the history of a totalitarian regime is not difficult, but what is difficult is grasping why there is not something in our collective immune system that kills those regimes before they metastasize.  What is missing in our evolutionary development that leaves us vulnerable?  No answer, but there is one element always present in the early stage.  You may have noticed.  Men in uniforms with weapons.

Barbara Demick has written a devastating account of life, Nothing To Envy: Ordinary Lives In North Korea, that demonstrates without advocating that we must continue to be diplomatically and humanely assertive.  No aggression, no nation-building, no dominance, no name-calling.  A little trade.  A friendly hand.

The author is an experienced international journalist who interviewed six North Korean citizens who fled to South Korea.  The stories follow them under first Kim Il-sung, then Kim Jong-il, and finally their new lives in South Korea.  The stories are grim and the sacrifices immense but all very believable.

The book is saved from its dark subject by a grace and directness that allows no heroes and no villains.  Six ordinary people made interesting because we are allowed to observe and respond on our own.  Charles Marlin

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