My Holiday in North Korea – by Wendy Simmons

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Wendy Simmons, the author of this book, has a diverse background. She’s been a teacher, bar owner, photographer, and inhabitant of a converted 1800s schoolhouse in Brooklyn. Little surprise that she chose to add “traveler of North Korea,” to that list.

The book is especially relevant in light of the recent tragic death of Otto Warmbier.

Wendy describes how from the moment she arrives in North Korea, she is escorted through each area that she visits. All the guides give off the air of putting on a scripted show so as to cast North Korea in a good light. The country’s leaders can do no wrong, and many of the important decisions made (such as length of highways, number of floors in a building) are tied to the details of things like their birthdays.

Nearly all the experiences Wendy has have a veneer of bullshit. Whenever she has an interaction that she thinks might be authentic (a giggle, an interest in a recipe), she mentally adds it to her “shit I think might be real list.”

This was an interesting read. A good way to get a glimpse of a country I never plan to visit.

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