10 books like Korea's Place in the Sun

By Bruce Cumings,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Korea's Place in the Sun. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Nothing to Envy

By Barbara Demick,

Book cover of Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

I met Barbara at an international conference on human rights called Oslo Freedom Forum, in Norway, where we were both speakers at that conference. After talking to her, I read her book and learned more about the heart-breaking situation in North Korea. It was a real eye-opener for me and inspired me to see the courage of North Korean refugees who escaped the atrocities and speak out for their own homeland. 

Nothing to Envy

By Barbara Demick,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Nothing to Envy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An eye-opening account of life inside North Korea—a closed world of increasing global importance—hailed as a “tour de force of meticulous reporting” (The New York Review of Books)
 
NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST • NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FINALIST

In this landmark addition to the literature of totalitarianism, 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 (the father of Kim Jong-un), and a devastating famine that killed one-fifth of the population.
 
Demick brings to life…


The Orphan Master's Son

By Adam Johnson,

Book cover of The Orphan Master's Son

Adam Johnson visited North Korea once as a tourist. Based on his keen observations during those weeks, he spins a fantastic tale about Pak Jun Do, an orphaned boy who uses treachery and deception to rise to a high position in the North Korean regime. Pak is part of a crew that kidnaps a little girl from Japan, and later marries North Korea’s most famous actress. The genius of the book is that Johnson imbues the characters with believable personalities, even as he moves them through a nightmarish reality most would find completely unbelievable. The book is so good that one need not have any interest in, or knowledge of, North Korea to enjoy it.

The Orphan Master's Son

By Adam Johnson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Orphan Master's Son as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

- WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE FOR FICTION
- NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
- NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST
- 'You know you are in the hands of someone who can tell a story. Fantastic' ZADIE SMITH
The award-winning and New York Times bestselling novel: a dark and witty story of the rise of a young orphan in the surreal and tyrannical regime of North Korea .

Young Pak Jun Do is convinced he is special. He knows he must be the unique son of the master of the orphanage, and definitely not some kid dumped by his parents. Surely it…


Pyongyang

By Guy Delisle, Helge Dascher (translator),

Book cover of Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea

The Canadian animator offers a revealing account of his two-month trip to North Korea to oversee a cartooning project. In deceptively simple words and drawings, Delisle gives us a front-row view of this complex, enigmatic totalitarian society. Everyday life in Pyongyang is rich fodder for this hilariously grumpy author. What’s it really like living in North Korea? Read this book and weep—and laugh. 

Pyongyang

By Guy Delisle, Helge Dascher (translator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Pyongyang as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Famously referred to as an "Axis-of-Evil" country, North Korea remains one of the most secretive and mysterious nations in the world today. A series of manmade and natural catastrophes have also left it one of the poorest. When the fortress-like country recently opened the door a crack to foreign investment, cartoonist Guy Delisle found himself in its capital of Pyongyang on a work visa for a French film animation company, becoming one of the few Westerners to witness current conditions in the surreal showcase city. Armed with a smuggled radio and a copy of 1984, Delisle could only explore Pyongyang…


The Cleanest Race

By B.R. Myers,

Book cover of The Cleanest Race: How North Koreans See Themselves and Why It Matters

Myers, a professor and North Korea watcher, draws on a careful reading of the “Hermit Kingdom’s” cultural products (its political speeches, novels, pamphlets, and more) to tease out a worldview that is too often opaque to outsiders. While escapee literature focuses on how average Koreans suffer under that brutal regime, this book affords us insight into how the regime sees itself – in ways that will surprise you.

The Cleanest Race

By B.R. Myers,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Cleanest Race as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Understanding North Korea through its propagandaA newly revised and updated edition that includes a consideration of Kim Jung Il's successor, Kim Jong-On What do the North Koreans really believe? How do they see themselves and the world around them? Here B.R. Myers, a North Korea analyst and a contributing editor of The Atlantic, presents the first full-length study of the North Korean worldview. Drawing on extensive research into the regime’s domestic propaganda, including films, romance novels and other artifacts of the personality cult, Myers analyzes each of the country’s official myths in turn€”from the notion of Koreans’ unique moral purity,…


Immovable Object

By A.B. Abrams,

Book cover of Immovable Object: North Korea's 70 Years at War with American Power

I love A.B. Abrams as a writer because he can look at a subject and see what others have failed to see. I read his book only after completing my own, and I’m sorry I missed it. Immovable Object tells a fascinating story, recounted in few other places, of how North Korea has not only helped other peoples fight for national liberation but has achieved what no other post-colonial country has ever accomplished: the ability to stay the hand of an aggressive US empire by developing a credible retaliatory nuclear threat.

Immovable Object

By A.B. Abrams,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Immovable Object as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

North Korea and the United States have been officially at war for over 70 years, one of the longest lasting and most unbalanced conflicts in world history, in which a small East Asian state has held its own against a Western superpower for over three generations. With the Western world increasingly pivoting its attention towards Northeast Asia, and the region likely to play a more central role in the global economy, North Korea's importance as a strategically located country, potential economic powerhouse and major opponent of Western regional hegemony will only grow over the coming decades. This work is the…


A Capitalist in North Korea

By Felix Abt,

Book cover of A Capitalist in North Korea: My Seven Years in the Hermit Kingdom

Abt, an entrepreneur who lived in North Korea for seven years, challenges the myths and misconceptions about the DPRK that flourish in the West, not only among people who are inclined to believe the East Asian state is a hell on earth, but also among those who are apt to overlook its failings. I really liked this book. It is clearly written and the pace is brisk and engaging.

A Capitalist in North Korea

By Felix Abt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Capitalist in North Korea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Business in North Korea: a paradoxical and fascinating situation is interpreted by a true insider.

In 2002, the Swiss power company ABB appointed Felix Abt its country director for North Korea. The Swiss Entrepreneur lived and worked in North Korea for seven years, one of the few foreign businessmen there. After the experience, Abt felt compelled to write A Capitalist in North Korea to describe the multifaceted society he encountered.

North Korea, at the time, was heavily sanctioned by the UN which made it extremely difficult to do business. Yet he discovered that it was a place where plastic surgery…


In North Korea

By Anna Louise Strong,

Book cover of In North Korea: First Eyewitness Report

Strong was a US journalist who reported on Communist movements for 40 years, beginning in the 1920s. In 1949 she travelled to Korea to report on the birth of the new North Korean state. I love this book because it offers an on-the-ground view of why the state was created and what its founders were trying to accomplish—invaluable for understanding the country today.

In North Korea

By Anna Louise Strong,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In North Korea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Written by world traveler Anna Louise Strong (1885 1970), a reporter dedicated to social justice issues. A leftist radical, she covered I.W.W. trials and labor strikes in the Pacific Northwest before becoming a socialist . She was the Moscow correspondent for the American Friends Service Committee and International News Service, and traveled extensively throughout Russia, Asia and Eastern Europe. She was the first reporter to gain access to North Korea after WWII. In North Korea was published by Soviet Russia Today (1949), and she considers such topic as government and elections, industry, agriculture and impact of Soviet troops.


The Specter of Communism

By Melvyn P. Leffler,

Book cover of The Specter of Communism: The United States and the Origins of the Cold War, 1917-1953

Leffler’s book is about much more than North Korea, but it covers world events that are critical to understanding the communist Korean state, its birth, and its conflict with the United States. I drew heavily on Leffler’s work in my own book to place North Korea within the context of surrounding geopolitical developments.

The Specter of Communism

By Melvyn P. Leffler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Specter of Communism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Examines the origins and history of the Cold War


A Team of Their Own

By Seth Berkman,

Book cover of A Team of Their Own: How an International Sisterhood Made Olympic History

A couple of weeks before the 2018 Olympics opened in Pyeongchang, an unlikely women’s South Korean hockey team hastily took shape. Why unlikely? Its roster, bolstered with women of Korean descent from the United States and Canada, suddenly added players from North Korea. Like most sports books, this isn’t really about sports; it’s about identity, belonging, sisterhood, and culture. Miracles on ice can take many forms.

A Team of Their Own

By Seth Berkman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Team of Their Own as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A December Stephen Curry Book Club Pick

One of ESPN’s 25 Can’t Miss Books of 2019

“A feel-good story.”—New York Times Book Review

“This isn’t simply a sports book. Rather, it’s a book about inspiring and courageous women who just happened to be hockey players.”—Korea Times

The inspiring, unlikely story of the American, Canadian, South Korean and even North Korean women who joined together to form Korea’s first Olympic ice hockey team.

Two weeks before the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics, South Korea’s women’s hockey team was forced into a predicament that no president, ambassador or general had…


The Last Stand of Fox Company

By Tom Clavin, Bob Drury,

Book cover of The Last Stand of Fox Company: A True Story of U.S. Marines in Combat

Shortly after the beginning of the Korean War in 1950, the First Marine Division was fighting the North Korean army in the north of the Korean Peninsula. In the fall of 1950, the Chinese suddenly entered the war and the First Division Marines became surrounded and vastly outnumbered by Chinese soldiers near the Chosin Reservoir. The only way they could survive was to fight their way south through a narrow valley. Fox Company led by Captain William Barber fought a long cold struggle against the surrounding Chinese. During the relentless violence, three-quarters of Fox’s Marines were killed, wounded, or captured. Just when it looked like they would be overrun, Lt. Colonel Raymond Davis, who is fighting south from Chosin, volunteers to lead a daring mission that will seek to cut a hole in the Chinese lines and relieve the men of Fox.

The Last Stand of Fox Company

By Tom Clavin, Bob Drury,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Last Stand of Fox Company as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A "gut-clenching and meticulously detailed" (USA Today) account from the Korean War and how Captain William Barber led 246 courageous Marines of the Seventh Marine Regiment in the perilous defense of Fox Hill.

November 1950, the Korean Peninsula: After General MacArthur ignores Mao’s warnings and pushes his UN forces deep into North Korea, his 10,000 First Division Marines find themselves surrounded and hopelessly outnumbered by 100,000 Chinese soldiers near the Chosin Reservoir. Their only chance for survival is to fight their way south through the Toktong Pass, a narrow gorge that will need to be held open at all costs.…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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