‘Nothing to Envy’ and the Plight of North Koreans

A Sad Book, But a Great Read
A Sad Book, But a Great Read

One thing I remember most about South Korea was its bitterly cold winters. One could almost taste the Siberian cold in the air. Every once in a while, I would find myself thinking, “If it’s this cold in South Korea, just imagine what’s going on in North Korea!”

I recently read the great book “Nothing to Envy” by Los Angeles Times journalist Barbara Demick. It is about the plight of every day North Koreans and has got to be one of the saddest books I’ve ever read. It makes you want to cry. According to the book, living with the bitter cold during the winter is the least of North Korean’s worries.

I highly recommend the book for a number of reasons, chief among them it really provides one with a sense of how horrible life in North Korea is on a daily basis. Nothing I have ever experience has been anywhere near as bad as what is portrayed in “Nothing to Envy.”

I thought of “Nothing to Envy” when I saw on the Marmot’s Hole that Andrew Salmon had written in the Korea Times about how people continue to ignore the plight of North Koreans.

According to Salmon:

Despite lying at the heart of booming Northeast Asia, North Korea is a nation where over a million are estimated to have starved to death in the late 1990s; where millions endure malnutrition today; and where hundreds of thousands suffer inhumane conditions in the gulag.

So why the hell are young South Koreans not flooding the streets and protesting this issue ― an issue that is ongoing, just 40 miles north of their capital?

One answer may be that Pyongyang is unresponsive to demonstrations, and there is no North Korean body or organization to protest outside in Seoul.

What bothers me the most about the plight of North Koreans is that if there was oil in North Korea, the West would have invaded long ago. We can’t do anything now because millions would die and so we just have to wait. Hopefully, one day we won’t have to worry about the plight of North Koreans because they’ll just be Koreans. And hopefully that day will be soon.

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Migukin has been in the newspaper business off and on for about 15 years. He lived in South Korea for about 5 years total. He co-founded ROKon Magazine in Seoul, South Korea several years ago. He currently is a freelance writer and photographer living in the Richmond, Virginia area. You can read his personal Website at migukin.wordpress.com.


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