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[Book Review] At over 700 pages, plus nearly 150 pages of notes, this is one of the most detailed English-language books on North Korea I have ever read. The author’s journalism background makes for a more enjoyable, less-academic read than many other North Korea books reviewed here, plus the controversial use of defector testimony/interviews brings the subject to life. Strange name aside, an excellent, thoroughly readable look at North Korea.
[Traditionally, defector testimony has been thought unreliable due to the suspected influence of South Korean intelligence on refugees during their initial debriefing period in the South. However, the much larger numbers of defectors (both in China and the South) since the North Korean famine in the 90s, many telling similar stories, have led to a reevaluation of this preconception by most mainstream scholars. The left, especially in South Korea, still tends to deny the trustworthiness of defector accounts however, so there is still some controversy regarding defector-based scholarship.]