Book Review; Without You, There is No Us

Posted on 03/04/2021. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Author, Suki Kim

Suki Kim, author or the memoir Without you, There Is No Us, immigrated from South Korea with her parents to the United States when she was thirteen years old. She became a writer being published in national newspapers, periodicals and the author of books. She traveled widely in her profession, but never lost an interest in Korea, her homeland. During a period between 2002 until 2011 Kim had the opportunity to visit North Korea often. During a six month period of that time, while superstitiously pretending to be part of a missionary group teaching English to elite university students, took notes used to write this book.

 Kim was aware of reported conditions inside North Korea. But being aware did not prepare her for what she experienced during the six months she spent teaching English in a facility called PUST. Only English was taught at PUST. The teachers were evangelical missionaries from around the world. Kim described it as a prison disguised as a campus. Everything being taught had to be approved by minders who constantly monitored everything the teachers did. The whereabouts and movements of all of the teachers and students was monitored at all times. Even the friends of students were determined by a higher authority.

There Kim felt the control experienced North Korea people every day of their lives and the censored and false information they were provided with about the world, both internal and external to North Korea. She could not express her feelings or opinions freely. She had to be careful not to exceed limits placed on what she said and did. Kim also experienced the limitations of the North Korean economy, power failures were a daily experience, the quantity and variety of food was limited, even for the students who were part of a privileged group.  In the winter heating was limited. Classrooms were so cold; Kim had a difficult time holding onto chalk with bare hands.

These restriction, limitations, and economic problems were felt by every North Korean, but they did not complain but rather boasted of the superiority of the North Korean government and system. Did they believe what they were programed to believe? Kim was not sure and did not predict what would happen in the future.

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