Without You There Is No Us by Suki Kim
Why I Chose This Book
I picked out this book for my book club at work due to the interesting topic—teaching English in China can be interesting, but a book about teaching English in North Korea? I knew it would be a relevant big hit with my coworkers and I think books like this are becoming increasingly important with the eminent threat that is the DPRK.
About the Book
Author Suki Kim, a Korean-American with family separated by the North and South during the Korean war, travels to North Korea as part of a coalition of religious individuals who will teach classes at Pyongyang’s prestigious Institute of Technology. She is moved and changed by her experiences with her students, all young and impressionable men from well-connected families with whom she develops a deep bond. We learn about what life is like in the capital for students and just how much control is exerted by those in power.
This book was both depressing and eye-opening, and it is a unique look at modern-day North Korea that shows just how restricted people are how little can be done from the outside, and even from the inside, to open people’s minds. Little did I know that several months after reading this book, I would travel to the demilitarized zone on the border of North and South Korea and look across at the DPRK from an observation tower, the whole time thinking about this book.
Suki Kim also did a really great TED talk on her book, which you can check out here.