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Best North Korea Books Worth Your Attention

Looking for the best North Korea books? Browse our list to find excellent book recommendations on the subject.

1. The Real North Korea: Life and Politics in the Failed Stalinist Utopia (2014)

 Best North Korea Books Worth Your AttentionAndrei Lankov has gone where few outsiders have ever been. A native of the former Soviet Union, he lived as an exchange student in North Korea in the 1980s. He has studied it for his entire career, using his fluency in Korean and personal contacts to build a rich, nuanced understanding. In The Real North Korea, Lankov substitutes cold, clear analysis for the overheated rhetoric surrounding this opaque police state. After providing an accessible history of the nation, he turns his focus to what North Korea is, what its leadership thinks, and how its…
Author(s): Andrei Lankov

2. Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea (2010)

 Best North Korea Books Worth Your Attention  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 what it means to be living under the most repressive regime today—an Orwellian world that is by choice not connected to the Internet, where displays of affection are punished, informants are…
Author(s): Barbara Demick

3. Escape from Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West (2013)

 Best North Korea Books Worth Your AttentionNorth Korea’s political prison camps have existed twice as long as Stalin’s Soviet gulags and twelve times as long as the Nazi concentration camps. No one born and raised in these camps is known to have escaped. No one, that is, except Shin Dong-hyuk.In Escape From Camp 14, Blaine Harden unlocks the secrets of the world’s most repressive totalitarian state through the story of Shin’s shocking imprisonment and his astounding getaway. Shin knew nothing of civilized existence—he saw his mother as a competitor for food, guards raised him to be a snitch, and he witnessed…
Author(s): Blaine Harden

4. In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom (2016)

 Best North Korea Books Worth Your AttentionYeonmi Park has told the harrowing story of her escape from North Korea as a child many times, but never before has she revealed the most intimate and devastating details of the repressive society she was raised in and the enormous price she paid to escape. Park’s family was loving and close-knit, but life in North Korea was brutal, practically medieval. Park would regularly go without food and was made to believe that, Kim Jong Il, the country’s dictator, could read her mind. After her father was imprisoned and tortured by the regime for trading on the black-market,…
Author(s): Yeonmi Park, Maryanne Vollers

5. North Korea: A History (2018)

 Best North Korea Books Worth Your AttentionIn this key textbook, Michael J. Seth offers an excellent synthesis of existing scholarship, including a thorough examination of contemporary sources. Seth masterfully traces how North Korea gradually transformed itself from a Soviet-style socialist state to an ultra-nationalist, dynastic one, illuminating this journey with an engaging understanding of the political, ideological, economic and social forces at play. Throughout, Seth adds a rich dimension by placing North Korean history into broader global perspective and considering the implications for the future of…
Author(s): Michael J. Seth

6. A River in Darkness: One Man’s Escape from North Korea (2018)

 Best North Korea Books Worth Your AttentionHalf-Korean, half-Japanese, Masaji Ishikawa has spent his whole life feeling like a man without a country. This feeling only deepened when his family moved from Japan to North Korea when Ishikawa was just thirteen years old, and unwittingly became members of the lowest social caste. His father, himself a Korean national, was lured to the new Communist country by promises of abundant work, education for his children, and a higher station in society. But the reality of their new life was far from utopian.In this memoir translated from the original Japanese, Ishikawa candidly recounts his tumultuous upbringing and the brutal…
Author(s): Masaji Ishikawa , Risa Kobayashi , et al.

7. Discovering Joy: Ten Years in North Korea (2018)

 Best North Korea Books Worth Your AttentionA surprising discovery in the unlikliest of places … Joy Yoon and her husband spent more than ten years as humanitarian NGO workers in one of the world’s most mysterious and closed societies. In this book she shares observations and insights, offering readers the chance to re-evaluate understandings of the so-called “Hermit Kingdom.”…
Author(s): Joy Yoon

8. Rocketbone’s Guide to North Korea (2019)

 Best North Korea Books Worth Your AttentionJoin Rocketbone, an inter-galactic explorer from the planet P3T0N, in a quest to discover the Hermit Kingdom of North Korea, one of the most mysterious places on Earth. Rocketbone uncovers the truth about everything from Kim Jong-un to kimchi in a land very few have visited….
Author(s): J.R. JaBone

9. The Girl with Seven Names (2016)

 Best North Korea Books Worth Your AttentionNEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERAn extraordinary insight into life under one of the world’s most ruthless and secretive dictatorships – and the story of one woman’s terrifying struggle to avoid capture/repatriation and guide her family to freedom.As a child growing up in North Korea, Hyeonseo Lee was one of millions trapped by a secretive and brutal communist regime. Her home on the border with China gave her some exposure to the world beyond the confines of the Hermit Kingdom and, as the famine of the 1990s struck, she began to wonder, question and to…
Author(s): Hyeonseo Lee, David John

10. I Escaped North Korea! (2019)

 Best North Korea Books Worth Your Attention14-year-old Dae has been taught that North Korea is the best place in the world. Yet the painfully skinny boy can’t help wondering why all his family has to eat is watery porridge made from grass. At school, Dae and his friends bow before the giant portraits of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, their clothes flapping around their bony limbs. Dae begins to question why the Great Leaders look so well fed.When Dae’s beloved father is hauled away to a hard-labor camp, the young teen must fend for himself. Alone, things turn from bad to worse and Dae dreams of rebellion–of fleeing…
Author(s): Scott Peters, Ellie Crowe

11. The Accusation: Forbidden Stories from Inside North Korea (2018)

 Best North Korea Books Worth Your AttentionThe Accusation is a deeply moving and eye-opening work of fiction that paints a powerful portrait of life under the North Korean regime. Set during the period of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il’s leadership, the seven stories that make up The Accusation give voice to people living under this most bizarre and horrifying of dictatorships. The characters of these compelling stories come from a wide variety of backgrounds, from a young mother living among the elite in Pyongyang whose son misbehaves during a political rally, to a former Communist war hero who is deeply disillusioned…
Author(s): Bandi, Deborah Smith

12. My Holiday in North Korea: The Funniest/Worst Place on Earth (2016)

 Best North Korea Books Worth Your AttentionMost people want out of North Korea. Wendy Simmons wanted in.In My Holiday in North Korea: The Funniest/Worst Place on Earth, Wendy shares a glimpse of North Korea as it’s never been seen before. Even though it’s the scariest place on Earth, somehow Wendy forgot to check her sense of humor at the border. But Wendy’s initial amusement and bewilderment soon turned to frustration and growing paranoia. Before long, she learned the essential conundrum of “tourism” in North Korea: Travel is truly a love affair. But, just like love, it’s a two-way street. And North…
Author(s): Wendy Simmons

Best North Korea Books Worth Your Attention

We highly recommend you to buy all paper or e-books in a legal way, for example, on Amazon. But sometimes it might be a need to dig deeper beyond the shiny book cover. Before making a purchase, you can visit resources like Genesis and download some north korea books mentioned below at your own risk. Once again, we do not host any illegal or copyrighted files, but simply give our visitors a choice and hope they will make a wise decision.

The Border: A Journey Around Russia Through North Korea, China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Poland, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Norway, and the Northwest Passage

Author(s): Erika Fatland
ID: 2917502, Publisher: Pegasus Books, Year: 2021, Size: 13 Mb, Format: epub

Fish, Fishing and Community in North Korea and Neighbours: Vibrant Matter(s)

Author(s): Robert Winstanley-Chesters
ID: 2472355, Publisher: Springer Singapore, Year: 2020, Size: 4 Mb, Format: pdf

Becoming Kim Jong Un: A Former CIA Officer's Insights into North Korea's Enigmatic Young Dictator

Author(s): Jung H. Pak
ID: 2508786, Publisher: Ballantine, Year: 2020, Size: 25 Mb, Format: epub

Please note that this booklist is not definite. Some books are truly record-breakers according to The Wall Street Journal, others are drafted by unknown authors. On top of that, you can always find additional tutorials and courses on Coursera, Udemy or edX, for example. Are there any other relevant resources you could recommend? Drop a comment if you have any feedback on the list.

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