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Jia: a Novel of North Korea

by Hyejin Kim

Intelligence, decency, even good looks and talent count for very little in modern North Korea unless you are accepted as part of the ruling elite. An understated look at life for the vast majority both in their home country and as refugees in China. Highly recommended unless you can't do without a happy ending.

Extract

'Jia, who lives in mines and isolated mountain villages? Trash, reactionary elements. Everybody knows we don't need these people in this society. We're just going there to throw trash away.'
...

I wasn't able to defend them, having left the mountain myself and hidden my early life, but looking at Seunggyu's contemptuous profile, I was reminded of my maternal grandfather. 'Don't say that. They're still human, they feel happiness and sadness like you do. How do you know what they think? Have you ever talked with them sincerely?' I was indignant.

Parallels

Nothing to Envy: Real Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick
Till Morning Comes by Han Suyin
 

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