North Korea

My Holiday in North Korea: The Funniest/Worst Place on Earth– Wendy Simmons

 

Guys, It’s been awhile and I apologize. Funny thing is I read this book back in May. I finished it in one day while I was waiting in the airport catching a flight back from Nashville to DC. Interestingly enough, I’m crafting this post while on (a very bumpy) flight from Montreal to Athens with my brother and yia yia. More to come on that later. 

Anyways, back to My Holiday in North Korea. 

What a book. Seriously. So fascinating. The book is a personal memoir of the author’s 8? day adventure to North Korea or NoKo. Wendy not only writes about her experience but does it in such a conversational, and captivating that it will have you turning pages quickly while also saying what the fuck. (Trust me, she even throws a few swear words in there.) In addition to the words she writes, she includes dozens of personal photographs she took of the places she went and the things she saw. These are integral to the book and validate what she is saying but also make you almost not believe. I don’t know if that makes sense, but i bet it does if you read the book. Wendy Simmons also relates the book to Alice and Wonderland and includes various quotes from the book to describe what’s going on in her life. (I personally am not interested in the rabbit hole, so it wasn’t alluring for me. But whatever floats your boat.)

I’m sure if you’re reading this blog post you know something about North Korea. It might be good, it is probably bad, or it might simply be that the President of the United States just had a summit with the North Korean dictator. (Note: I was reading this as the NK summit between Trump and Kim Jong Un was being planned. I am writing after the summit. I have no comment on the turnout other than I am DYING to know what the author thinks of the subsequent summit.)

I do just want to touch on one thing that I am still shocked about and that I will tell anyone who will listen. The brain washing North Korean citizens experience is unreal. It seems fake! I found myself laughing and thinking how the hell do they believe it. But I know better than to judge like that. If you know nothing else, then why wouldn’t you believe it? Also, I’m sure there is some bullshit “brainwashing” I’ve been made to believe at some point in my life. I do wanted to include a couple of my favorite examples of what Simmons saw that NoKo citizens believed. Peruse at your own risk. 

⇒North Korea has their own calendar system based on Kim Il Sung’s birthday. So 1912 is Year One and we are currently in Year 107. 

⇒Twins and Triplets are considered “lucky” and are afforded special privileges. This includes free milk, oil, gold ring/dagger to their parents. In addition they are taken into the state’s care for being so special. (Matt- If you are reading this, you should feel so special!)

⇒They have special tanning beds for pregnant women. This is because pregnant women need to stay inside a lot more and therefore lack Vitamin D which they get through the tanning beds. (Whether they even use them is actually debated.)

⇒And my all time favorite…. The story NoKo soldiers tell about how when the US wanted to forfeit the Korean War in a tent but the Great Korean Leader stepped in and insisted a building be built overnight for the occasion. LOL. They also have a museum that showcases the American War Atrocities. I just had to look it up after and oh. my. god. It’s sick propaganda. I’ll include a link below of an article on the Daily Beast that is a good overview of the museum. FYI: Wendy Simmons refused to go and I don’t blame her. 

These are just a few ways Wendy Simmons’ trip to North Korea was a trip of fabrications. It’s a hard thing to explain in writing, but every time she experienced something she had to question whether it was a part of real, normal North Korean life or if it was something that was simply planned for her visit. No joke, she questioned everything. A wedding. The hospital. An amusement park. A manufacturing center. A soccer match.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely. It’s easy to read, captivating and funny, all while telling a crazy true story. It also challenges you to think. About a part of the world you only hear in the news. About a country of people that are trained to believe something completely different. About what you may believe that is completely untrue. 

Does this book make me want to go to North Korea? Yes. I think before I was much more resistant to ever thinking I’d want to go. But reading a story of a woman traveling to such a closed off country successfully is extremely inspiring. Now, I’m not saying I forsee myself planning a trip here anytime soon but if the opportunity arose at some point in my life, it wouldn’t be a hard no. 

Guys!!! I’m in a book lull! Anyone have any recommendations? 🙂 

Sinchon Museum of American War Atrocities: https://www.thedailybeast.com/inside-north-koreas-museum-of-american-war-atrocities

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