Publisher: Bantam Press
Weight: 420 g
In March 2013 award-winning BBC Panorama reporter John Sweeney went undercover to gain unprecedented access to North Korea. Posing as a university professor, Sweeney saw the reality behind the world's most secret state. He spoke to people who have seen the horrific dark side of the regime and saw things which have been hidden for years from the eyes of the western world: huge factories with no staff or electricity; uniformed child soldiers working in a zoo; and the world-famous and eerily empty DMZ - the De-Militarized Zone where North Korea ends and South Korea starts - all framed by the relentless flow of regime propaganda from omnipresent and crackly loudspeakers.
Sweeney also visited South Korea and met defectors from the North who told him the other side of the story: gulags within a gulag state, dire poverty, blunted lives, hideous torture, effective infanticide of disabled babies, stick-limbed children dying of famine and mass graves of political prisoners that could only be dug when the spring thaw set in. With the world's eyes focused on North Korea and its threats to unleash nuclear weapons on the US and other countries, Sweeney's timely account is a stunning piece of reportage from the country the author describes as the strangest place he's ever visited.
A combination of first person experiences, interviews - all new and unique - and history, the book is the work of a courageous investigator at the very top of his game. It explores the country's troubled history as well as providing a window into life there today.
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