As North Korea dips in and out of the media’s spotlight, breaking stories such as the nuclear war threat of 2013 and the execution of leader Kim Jong-un’s uncle, the country is forever at the scrutiny of the Western public. I find myself asking what else has happened in North Korea. Who are its people and how do they live? Are they in poverty? Where are the labour camps and what do they entail? These are the kind of questions I expect journalists to answer, but instead, when watching documentaries on the subject, I find myself perplexed as to how little these reporters reveal, especially when they have fought so much red tape to gain entry to country.
In her book, Nothing to Envy, Barbara Demick depicts an emotional account of six North Korean citizens as they go about their everyday life. It plunges far beyond the depth of Western reporters who only tell part of, and at times exaggerate, the nation’s story.