Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Written for the Road...

PYONGYANG: A JOURNEY IN NORTH KOREA is a graphic novel telling the story of Guy Delisle, a French-Canadian cartoonist sent to North Korea on a work visa for two months in 2001, to supervise animation on a children's television show. This autobiographical account takes the reader inside the unknown and rarely seen borders of North Korea, one of the last remaining totalitarian Communist societies in the world, and gives straightforward, comical insight to what he discovered there. He records everything from the omnipresent statues and portraits of dictators Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il, to the brainwashed obedience of the citizens. Guy tells his story very matter-of-factly, allowing the reader to form his own opinion of this bizarre and mysterious part of the world. He had hilarious experiences while finding ways to overcome his alienation and boredom, but still maintained empathy. He recounts watching the robotic performance of a child musical prodigy by thinking, "It's all so cold... and sad. I could cry." Although Guy was stationed in North Korea legally, his every move was monitored by a guide and translator who limited his activities, but certainly not his observations. PYONGYANG is a short and easy read, with wonderful, unembellished animation, reflecting the drabness and sterility of this totalitarian society.

Sure, this book can be read in one sitting, but what you learn from it will stay with you for much longer. PYONGYANG appeals to a variety of readers, but those who have traveled to Korea, and experienced its unique culture, are sure to find this book laugh out loud funny!

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