Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Brief Review: Pyongyang by Guy Delisle

Pyongyang: A Journey in North KoreaPyongyang: A Journey in North Korea by Guy Delisle
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An interesting look inside an enigmatic country. In the tradition of Sacco and Satrapi, Delisle (known as Mr. Guy to his guides and translators) paints the picture of a fascist North Korea with an outsider's brush. The art is good, but where this book really shines is the story. As an animator working with a team in Pyongyang, Delisle introduces us to his many overseers, employees, and foreign friends who turn out to be great windows into the workings of the city.

The book is short enough to read in an hour or two, and I would have loved to learn more about the trip, but it did seem as though everything about Mr. Guy's time in the country was kept pretty tightly controlled. Not to mention the fact that most of his stay was spent working on his animation project probably led to some long dull spells.

There is an issue with Delisle being kind of a dick, which I suppose I should touch on. He certainly looks down on the North Koreans and infantilizes them a bit. I don't think he is as bad as some other reviews have stated, however, he definitely doesn't look at other cultures as equal. He's also weirdly sexist. There was an obvious innuendo that involved torture. I'm sure he meant it to be a compliment... but as I said earlier, it seems like he's kind of a dick. Who knows, maybe he's a great guy in person, but there was some phrasing in this book that really should have been heavily edited.

Anyway, it is definitely worth a look for anyone interested in learning more about North Korea. Short, easy read, and interesting stuff.

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Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea

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