Biography Without You There Is No Us Ebook


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A haunting account of teaching English to the sons of North Korea's ruling class during the last six months of Kim Jong-il's reign. Every day, three times a day, the students march in two straight lines, singing praises to Kim Jong-il and North Korea: Without you, there is no. Read "Without You, There Is No Us My secret life teaching the sons of North Korea's elite" by Suki Kim available from Rakuten Kobo. It is , and all. Editorial Reviews. Review. A New York Times Bestseller "Chilling reminds us that evil is not Buy a Kindle Kindle eBooks Kindle Unlimited Prime Reading Best Sellers & More Kindle Book Deals Free Reading Apps Kindle Singles.

Without You There Is No Us Ebook

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Editorial Reviews. Review. A New York Times Bestseller "Chilling reminds us that evil is not Without You, There Is No Us: Undercover Among the Sons of North Korea's Elite eBook: Suki Kim: Kindle Store. The LTI Korea Library is the multilingual archive of Korean literature including E- books and information on translated Korean works and writers. Without you, there is no us. It is a chilling scene, but gradually Suki Kim, too, learns the tune and, without noticing, begins to hum it. It is , and all universities.

Theirs is not a culture of forgetting. The girls were never heard from again. He was never seen again. Stories such as these abound in South Korea, and probably North Korea, if its people were allowed to tell them. Separation haunts the affected long after the actual incident. It is a perpetual act of violation. You know that the missing are there, just a few hours away, but you cannot see them or write to them or call them. It could be your mother trapped on the other side of the border.

It could be your lover whom you will long for the rest of your life. It could be your child whom you cannot get to, although he calls out your name and cries himself to sleep every night. From Seoul, Pyongyang looms like a shadow, about miles away, so close but impossible to touch. Decades of such longing sicken a nation. The loss is remembered, and remembered, like an illness, a heartbreak from which there is no healing, and you are left to wonder what happened to the life you were supposed to have together.

For those of us raised by mothers and fathers who experienced such trauma firsthand, it is impossible not to continue this remembering. In you traveled to North Korea to teach at a school staffed entirely by foreigners and kept notes secretly the entire time.

If your notes had been discovered, you could have been deported, or even imprisoned. What made you willing to take that risk? I was born and raised in South Korea and immigrated to the U. Members of both sides of my family were taken to North Korea during the Korean War and never seen again.

Beginning in , I traveled there to report stories for various magazines. My goal was to write a book that humanizes North Koreans. I wanted to go beyond the almost comic images of the Great Leader—of a crazy man with a funny hairdo and outfits, whose hobby is threatening nuclear war. The truth is so much more dire and frightening. I wanted to help outsiders see North Koreans as real people, as people we can relate to, so that we can begin to care about what happens to them.

That was my goal and it seemed worth the risk. Can you paint a picture for us of what life is like there? I can only paint a picture of life at PUST since teachers and students were hardly ever allowed out.

The campus had a guardhouse and a gate, and the only times we were allowed to leave were during group outings, either to go sightseeing or grocery shopping. We were always accompanied by minders, whose job was to watch us and make sure we did nothing unauthorized. Sometimes they even followed us to the bathroom. The places we saw on our outings were the standard attractions that the regime allowed foreigners to see, so they were inevitably immaculate and unrevealing.

Whether it was a mountain or a museum or a fruit farm or a subway, everything ran according to a script, and the script was always focused on the splendid achievements of the Great Leader, either Kim Jong-il or Kim Il-sung. PUST was established and funded by evangelical Christian missionaries, so to get a job there you had to pose as both a missionary and a teacher. Did that pose an ethical dilemma for you? And in truth my missionary colleagues also lied, since their greater goal was not to educate the students but to convert North Koreans to Christianity in the future.

The other dilemma was knowing that publishing my book might negatively affect either my former students or the university. Although none of the students did anything more than express curiosity, I changed all names and identifying details in order to protect them.

Tell us a few of the ground rules the PUST administrators gave you ahead of time. We were told never to discuss the outside world in detail. Never compare; do not hint in any way that life is better outside. Never talk about politics. They are considered deities, so it is disrespectful to refer to them by name or point at their images.

The duality of their personalities. They could be sweet and boyish, yet they were fervent followers of the Great Leader, and when they were in that mode, they seemed one-dimensional and almost robotic. Three times a day, they marched to the cafeteria, in formation, chanting patriotic songs, like soldiers.

They spoke in a way that was very scripted. Their songs were extremely violent and aggressive towards America — for example, the lyrics of one song were about hunting the heads of Americans — but at the same time they were incredibly excited for the chance to watch Harry Potter. You say that you came to love your students.

What did you love about them? We were more or less trapped together in a walled compound, and in those circumstances love or understanding or camaraderie often develops.

It was not possible not to love them. My students were very innocent, almost childlike, because they had been so sheltered from the world. They still had that old-world ethic of respecting their teachers and obeying their parents, and they were shy.

In this odd way, they seemed pure. In the book you talk about how much the students lied. What did they lie about, and why? They would lie about almost anything with an ease that I found unnerving.

They would tell me they had slept very late on days when I had seen them doing their morning exercises at 6 AM. They would tell me they called their parents all the time, when in fact they were not allowed to at all. They told me they had partied with their friends during the summer break, when I knew that most of their friends at other universities had been assigned to work in construction fields that summer. Their lies seemed to be about their system and the restrictions that they were not allowed to reveal.

For example, they all had guard duty.

Without You, There Is No Us

From evening until the following morning, no matter how severe the weather, six students took turns standing outside the empty building on campus known as Kimilsungism Study Hall, guarding the spirit of their dead Great Leader. Of course, lying and secrecy were all they had ever known. From the time they were born, my students had been told that the Korean War was started by South Korea and the United States, that their Great Leader Kim Jong-il was admired around the world, and that their nation was the most powerful and prosperous on the planet.

In a country where the government invents its own truth, how could they be expected to do otherwise? One student asked me if people spoke Korean in the outside world and another asked whether it was true that naengmyun their national dish was hailed as the best in the world. Their lack of general knowledge astounded me.

Many of them did not know what the Eiffel Tower or the Taj Mahal was. They thought their intranet, a censored network of pre-downloaded information, was the same as the Internet. But all of them could recite exactly when and for how much Alaska was sold to America—a lesson on imperialism. And they all knew the book Gone with the Wind, although they called it Disappeared with the Wind. I always wondered whether they were allowed to read it because the book is about a war between North and South, and the North wins!

What were you most afraid of while you were at PUST? The punishment for that could easily have been hard labor in a gulag. What also scared me, every single day, was that I would get my students in trouble.

We developed a real bond over time, and I was afraid I would instill doubts in their minds about the regime. It was completely foreign to them.

They are told what to think, and it requires no proof.

Critical thinking is very dangerous. I heard it so often that I memorized the tune and the lyrics. Life in Pyongyang was vastly different from life in the U. In your time there, what was the most difficult thing to get used to? To never be left alone is extremely exhausting.

The minders were always watching, the students were reporting on us; every meal, every conversation, every class was under scrutiny. Our rooms and offices were bugged. Each building on campus was connected by an enclosed walkway with windows on either side, so everything everywhere was visible. We had to get permission for everything as though we were children. Thinking was dangerous, but there was also no time for thinking.

This was a very foreign feeling—deeply claustrophobic and sometimes almost unbearable. How did the students react? It was my next-to-last day in North Korea, December 19, , and I was packing for the flight home when I found out. That was the one day when the teachers were invited inside the building where our students had daily propaganda classes with their North Korean professors.

It was their holy building, honoring the spirit of Kim Il-sung, the one they literally guarded day and night. Inside, there was a wake of sorts, with a few students greeting mourners in front of a large portrait of Kim Jong-il in the center of the lobby. For the rest of the day, the campus remained eerily empty. Dinner was canceled, and the few students I passed did not meet my eyes.

The devil is in the details here, for her gritty narrative focuses on everyday events to reveal how repression shapes daily life, even for the most privileged. Yet Kim also bears witness to that part of the human soul that no oppressor can ever claim. She couples an investigative reporter's fierce desire to strip away the fiction of the Hermit Kingdom with an immigrant's insatiable hunger for an emotional home, no matter how troubled and no matter how impossible. The elegance of Kim's prose and her great compassion for ordinary people caught up in an extraordinary situation kept me turning the pages, riveted by her story.

This is a book that rejoins North Korea with humanity. It delivers a beautifully and bravely observed inside account—startling, insightful, moving—of the planet's most notoriously closed and bewildering society.

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But what I liked best about it was being in the company of Suki Kim's voice—so intimate, vulnerable, obsessive, resilient, confiding and charming. A New York Times Bestseller "Chilling…reminds us that evil is not only banal; it is also completely arbitrary.

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Top Reviews Most recent Top Reviews. There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. Hardcover Verified Purchase. Ultimately, this book commits the cardinal sin I'm not religious, but that term feels all too appropriate given the book's setting of assuming the reader cares more about the author than about North Korea.

Allow me to explain. Although the book labels itself as "A Memoir", Suki Kim has claimed in interviews that the "Memoir" description was an unwanted addition by her publisher. She asserts that her book is a piece of investigative journalism to be approached as such. However, few people familiar with investigative journalism would likely agree that the style and structure of this book fit that genre.

It's very clearly a memoir in form, although certainly the manner in which she gathered her information qualifies as journalistic. She seems to have taken very detailed notes during her time there, despite apparently not having done much research in preparation for fitting in with evangelicals for example, she doesn't know that communion usually occurs once a month, instead musing that it "took place only occasionally, for some reason".

Regardless, the book fails to present a remarkable example of either genre. Without You, There is No Us is written in a very personal voice that initially serves as an effective vehicle for the reader's identification with the author.

Yet as the book progresses, the tone becomes increasingly melodramatic and self-pitying, even straying into self-indulgent melancholy remember, she chose to go there and return for a second semester. In the beginning of the book, the personalization of the story adds depth, with her stories of how her family was affected by the Korean war. Her description of later immigrating to the US adds needed context to her later experiences in North Korea, although details of her adjustment to this new life are seriously lacking.

Her experiences as a South Korean living in NK give her a few interesting insights, such as when she explains North Korea's "bastardization" of the Korean language, although she doesn't detail too many additional differences between the North and South Korean cultures.

She instead generally writes from a very American viewpoint, particularly regarding her perception of her students, and often prefers to focus inward rather than on the people around her. This leads to some very one-dimensional characterizations of the people she encounters, particularly her co-workers, contributing to what I mentioned in the very beginning of this review: Consequently, the book all too often veers into both mind-numbing mundanity and oversharing personal details.

Her constant mention of her nameless, faceless "lover" in New York is a particularly egregious example: Okay, so you went a couple months without getting laid?

Cry me a river, most people have the occasional dry spell. Seriously, she was at PUST for months with a break between semesters, and hasn't given any characterization of this person that would lead us to care. This is exactly the kind of pretentious melodrama the book increasingly falls into as the story progresses, despite its promising beginning -- and a great example of why it's not exactly journalistic in presentation.

The closest journalistic genre I could grant her writing is that of "gonzo journalism", but Hunter Thompson would have skewered this book. Kim spends time finagling a way to show her students a Harry Potter film. She creates considerable expectations in the reader regarding this event: The dramatic tension is built quite well.

Now, how did the students react to the movie? I have no idea. Kim doesn't tell us. She says that she showed it to her students, but then she simply jumps forward to the next event without providing any details regarding her students' reactions.

This is an abject narrative failure and is disappointing on so many levels, depriving the reader of such a valuable opportunity to find out how North Koreans would respond to outside media. My review has been harsh, certainly. I read a much better book about North Korea immediately before reading this one, so perhaps my expectations were too high.

However, there were great parts of this book and initially it showed incredible promise. My biggest regret about this book, unfortunately, isn't its considerable wasted potential: Suki Kim's storytelling is at its best when she describes what she sees, hears, or remembers; it's at its worst when she describes her feelings. Some good ideas here, but please rewrite and resubmit.

Paperback Verified Purchase. This is a well written and captivating book about one person's longer term experience with a segment of North Korean culture.

Many in these reviews seem to have the expectation that she would deliver a story and narrative from the standpoint of a free world, mostly American culture. Her book triumphs in being able to take us through the looking glass to the mindset, near as she can, of their culture. It is no wonder , as a few have said "she didnt seem to get to know the boys"; or - "there is no individual personality coming out in the students" - Hey, part of the message is, they don't know themselves, and they had little if any opportunity to develop their own "individuality".

NK is a puzzle, with many layers, and the author experienced one layer within the midst of a culture that reviews true throughout all the books I have read.

I find her references to her "life back home" a necessary counterpoint to the sucking vampire like energy she had to endure in such a repressive place for weeks on end. This is no real reflection on her personally, it is just how it is there, and how it must feel to adjust to that mind blowingly different reality.

I would recommend this book to those interested in deepening their understanding of North Korea, while also recommending other books to round out the picture and validate her observations to a deeper level of reader understanding. This book gives a fascinating bit of insight, although the view is very narrow, into the lives of People in North Korea.

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I acknowledge the criticisms given in the review from "laughingbull," -- the beginning of the book is very autobiographical, she doesn't explain why they're learning English, and her perspective is limited. These are correct, but since this book is up-front about essentially being the author's memoir of her time in North Korea, this should be expected.

To address each of those points: Her Korean-American background is something that made her more accessible to her students. I do agree, though, that the frequent references to her "lover" got a bit tedious and unnecessary. For the most part, I think Kim does a good job of providing her observations with some background to help lead the reader to form their own ideas of why the regime does certain things.

Again, a continuing theme throughout the book is that the regime often contradicts itself - I did not feel this point needed to be explained. They have a practical need for their elite to learn English -- knowing your enemy -- that I think is something that they can easily explain in their propaganda. It makes perfect sense that they would like their scientists to understand English. I'm sure the recent Sony hackers had a pretty good working knowledge of English This is a memoir, not a research book.

The author is very up-front about the fact that she gained a very limited, but rare, exposure. However, a major difference in the perspective that she describes in this book, compared to other books about life in NK, is the type of people that she was exposed to. Other books I've read are mostly accounts of defectors, who were generally from more impoverished backgrounds.

Kim's students give a insight to the lives of the "privileged" class. Bottom line though: I also recommend the book "Nothing to Envy" for an account of the lives of "ordinary" North Korean citizens.

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This item: Set up a giveaway. Customers who bought this item also bought.Amazon Advertising Find, attract, and engage customers. Virtually no one gets out of North Korea. Life at PUST is lonely and claustrophobic, especially for Suki, whose letters are read by censors and who must hide her notes and photographs not only from her minders but from her colleagues—evangelical Christian missionaries who don't know or choose to ignore that Suki doesn't share their faith. At the same time, they offer Suki tantalizing glimpses of their private selves—their boyish enthusiasm, their eagerness to please, the flashes of curiosity that have not yet been extinguished.

Share This eBook:. She couples an investigative reporter's fierce desire to strip away the fiction of the Hermit Kingdom with an immigrant's insatiable hunger for an emotional home, no matter how troubled and no matter how impossible.

Vogue "Sometimes personal histories retain a potent electromagnetic force, [like] Suki Kim's rivetingly topical look inside the most isolationist country on earth. Add a card Contact support Cancel.