Saturday, October 31, 2015

Current Book: Without You, There Is No Us: My Time with the Sons of North Korea's Elite by Suki Kim

Author Suki Kim shows us a rare glimpse of what it is like inside North Korea, and that in itself is a reason to read this book. She works as a professor who teaches English in one of North Korea's "elite" universities, though it is a science and technology university without the Internet. While there, she takes notes about the lack of technology, the lack of honesty, the lack of freedom, and possibly even the lack of friendship available to the people in that country. Her descriptions paint a picture of the emotions she felt, her frustration at the lack of freedom, her anger, and even how she developed an affection for her students. She shows how depressing and sometimes creepy the Kim Jong-il worship is, and she brings out the question: is there hope for North Korea to join the rest of the world? In all, Suki wrote a book that was needed and wrote it well, placing the reader in that world to try to humanize the country.

Discussion questions:
1. Did your impression of North Korea change after you read the book? How?
2. Were there any observations of Suki's that you found striking?
3. In Chapter 20, Suki describes the college's "buddy system" and how the alliances can shift. What does that suggest about the nature of relationships in North Korea? Is true friendship possible?
4. Why do you think North Korea allows a missionary-run school?
5. Suki is uneasy about how easily the boys lie, but eventually becomes sympathetic toward them. Do you feel sympathy? Why or why not?
6. After the book, are you hopeful for North Korea's future?


Next Book:All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

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