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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent: funny, dark, sad and informative
Pyongyang is a simultaneously funny, sad and engaging story. The artwork is wonderfully simple and and evocative of the grim country, but it's well balanced by the informed and witty commentary.

The one negative review here faults the book for its attitude and lack of objectivity, but misses an important point: Delisle isn't a journalist. He's just a person...
Published 9 months ago by Steveriffic

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars DIDN'T KNOW TERM "GRAPHIC NOVEL"
I admit, I am totally fascinated with everything North Korean. I was expecting more than a cartoon book when I ordered this title. The first time I read it, I wasn't impressed. It was only after I picked it up a few weeks later and reread it, that I appreciated it. I recommend it to people who share my curiosities.
Published 22 months ago by Rod


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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent: funny, dark, sad and informative, March 25 2014
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This review is from: Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea (Paperback)
Pyongyang is a simultaneously funny, sad and engaging story. The artwork is wonderfully simple and and evocative of the grim country, but it's well balanced by the informed and witty commentary.

The one negative review here faults the book for its attitude and lack of objectivity, but misses an important point: Delisle isn't a journalist. He's just a person there observing. There are plenty of good serious books about North Korea (Bruce Cuming's North Korea is a great short introduction), but Pyongyang is a regular man's view. A poignant and very funny view.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining introduction to North Korea, Aug. 30 2013
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This review is from: Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea (Paperback)
Delisle's graphic novel is a well made and informed piece of work. It is regrettably short (as most graphic novels are because the pages fly by), but worth the read. If however, you are quite familiar with North Korean society already, this work won't add too much to your understanding of the place except for an interesting account of an animator working there. All the descriptions of stone faced traffic directors and smiling children performing in unison are not new. In sum, the book is a good introduction to the country, and to someone familiar the book is, as a personal account, still valuable, .
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5.0 out of 5 stars Journey, Feb. 11 2013
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This review is from: Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea (Paperback)
Very witty and essential reading for anyone and in particular for those visiting the DPRK. He is his own pun and this makes it charming.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lot of fun!, Oct. 22 2006
By 
Mike Tancsa (Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Pyongyang (Hardcover)
I first read this book last winter and had an awesomely fun time reading it and recently half read it looking over the shoulder of my wife as she read it for the first time in bed. I have traveled a bit in my life and had been to totalitarian states like Syria, East Germany and the Soviet Union so many of the physical monstrosities rang familiar. However, even in those places I didn't meet the "I love this kool-aid the dear leader allows us to drink" mentality that he ran into in NK. Unlike the other reviewer of this book, I appreciated the perspective of someone working in another country as opposed to someone just passing through. Where the previous reviewer was upset about him trying to control his laughter at the friendship museum, I too could barely contain my laughter reading those scenes. Comparing his "true believer" handlers to "over zealous soccer fans" is incredibly inappropriate. Are lunatic cults limited to other cultures? Of course not. We have plenty of our own. This should be read as someone's travelogue... a travel log doesn't necessarily have profound insights on every page... It's a fun book plain and simple. If you are looking for "Focult in North Korea" no, its not for you, but if you want a really fun and interesting read this book is for you!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars DIDN'T KNOW TERM "GRAPHIC NOVEL", Feb. 18 2013
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This review is from: Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea (Paperback)
I admit, I am totally fascinated with everything North Korean. I was expecting more than a cartoon book when I ordered this title. The first time I read it, I wasn't impressed. It was only after I picked it up a few weeks later and reread it, that I appreciated it. I recommend it to people who share my curiosities.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Walking home in the dark, April 14 2011
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Craig Rowland (Mississauga) - See all my reviews
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For the past two nights I have had dreams about North Korea. I don't recall ever having had a recurring dream. I never dreamt about the North during the early part of this year when I read one book after another about the DPRK. I wonder what tonight's dream will be about, considering I have just finished Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea, a graphic novel by Guy Delisle (translated by Helge Dascher). Pyongyang is the first work of graphic fiction I have read. It is classed as a novel but it reflects Delisle's own two-month stay in the North Korean capital where he worked for a French animation company.

Delisle's observations and frustrations in having to deal with North Korean bureaucracy made for a hilarious read. Although Delisle is in the country on a two-month work contract, he is still led by guides everywhere. Guest workers, like tourists, must pay their reverential respect at all North Korean monuments and propaganda museums in addition to working at their job six days a week. Delisle is given the propaganda tour and he depicts himself in some drawings as barely able to contain his laughter. He expresses his frustration at not being able to find a decent cup of coffee in the whole country. I know what I have in store yet I will be prepared in that at least I have the foreknowledge to bring my own, albeit inferior, instant coffee when compared to brewed, from home when I travel there.

The drawings were made with a variety of perspectives which I admired and enjoyed. In the midst of his adventures working with westerners and North Koreans at the animation studio, Delisle inserts a running joke in the form of a police line-up in which he asks the reader "Can You Spot the Traitors?". One must look at all the people and decide from almost an identical set of characteristics who is a traitor to the fatherland. A typical answer would be Figure #1 because "he let the portrait of Our Dear Leader gather dust". I do not believe that a graphic novel about North Korea would have had the same humorous touch if it had been written and drawn by someone who hadn't been there. A book like this would be a welcome addition to my collection on account of its artwork alone, and although I have already read it I would consider buying a copy.

I read the hardcover edition, which was 176 pages printed on a very thick paper. I always had to ensure I wasn't turning two pages at once since it often felt as though I had multiple pages between my fingers.
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9 of 24 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Journey into the mind of someone who doesn't get it, June 5 2006
This review is from: Pyongyang (Hardcover)
I picked this up with the assumption that it would fall along the same kind of nuanced, interesting analytical lines as say, Joe Sacco or Marjane Satrapi's graphic novels on outsider journeys and conflict. Instead, Delisle simply disappointed me. Where to begin? At times he offers interesting details into the country's ridiculous museums or construction customs, but istead of simply letting the facts speak for themselves, Delisle adds commentary that would best be left out in the 'show, don't tell' rulebook of highschool nonfiction writing.

While noting that his translators and guides would probably be punished severely for saying ANYTHING bad about the Kims, or ANYTHING good about America, he still reserves a mocking, superior attitude towards them during conversations about North Korea's politics. Why mock individuals for conforming when you know what awaits them should they deviate?

Though I am certainly no fan of communism or the personality cult of the Kims, I found myself irritated by his mockery of ordinary people revering the communist leaders. Particularly frustrating is the scene at the Frienship museum when he worries about containing his laughter in front of a crowd kneeling at Kim's feet. What makes these people any different or more brainwashed than overzealous hockey or soccer fans? Does he really think he would behave differently in their situation? His attitude towards North Koreans reminds me of the typical arrogance displayed towards Natives by early colonizers who felt the need to pathologize their every custom. (Examples include his mocking of coworkers enjoying propaganda music or their sad tourist sites)

This is not to say that North Korea is not worth critically examining, but perhaps we might lobby Joe Sacco to make a trip over. Delisle didn't exactly give me the critical analysis I was looking for. Instead of enjoying Coca-cola as a symbol of resistance (nevermind their human rights abuses in Columbia or environmental crimes in India..), Sacco would look at figures such as the translator and render a humanistic protrayal of what made them tick.
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Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea
Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea by Guy Delisle (Paperback - March 31 2007)
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