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Pyongyang: a Journey in North Korea

by Guy Delisle
Translated by Helge Dashner, from the French


Published by Drawn & Quarterly Books, 2005
176 pages
ISBN: 1896597890

Ages 13-17

Podcast featuring this book

French Canadian animator Guy Delisle was sent by his company to North Korea to supervise the outsourcing of some artwork for a TV show. The most brilliant aspect of this account of his few months there is the format in which he chose to tell it: as a graphic novel that exposes the hypocrisy and deceit implicit in a communist country being run by a dictator. He is assigned a “guide” who is clearly keeping an eye on him and making sure he says or does no evil, and that he appropriately reveres the thousands of images of Kim Jong Il and his father the late Kim Il Sung. Guy also recognizes that he is seeing a sanitized version of Korean life: the restaurants in which he dines and the spectacles to which he is invited appear to be for Westerners only. His drawings underscore the ridiculousness of the North Korean government’s pretenses, as well as its citizens’ sobering lack of access to what is happening in the rest of the world. Constant, understated humor keeps the book from feeling oppressive, but the oppression Guy portrays is vivid in a beautifully designed graphic novel. CCBC Category: Contemporary People, Places, and Events.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center


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