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Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea Paperback – Mar 31 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
In 2001, French-Canadian cartoonist Delisle traveled to North Korea on a work visa to supervise the animation of a children's cartoon show for two months. While there, he got a rare chance to observe firsthand one of the last remaining totalitarian Communist societies. He also got crappy ice cream, a barrage of propaganda and a chance to fly paper airplanes out of his 15th-floor hotel window. Combining a gift for anecdote and an ear for absurd dialogue, Delisle's retelling of his adventures makes a gently humorous counterpoint to the daily news stories about the axis of evil, a Lost in Translation for the Communist world. Delisle shifts between accounts of his work as an animator and life as a visitor in a country where all foreigners take up only two floors of a 50-story hotel. Delisle's simple but expressive art works well with his account, humanizing the few North Koreans he gets to know (including "Comrade Guide" and "Comrade Translator"), and facilitating digressions into North Korean history and various bizarre happenings involving brandy and bear cubs. Pyongyang will appeal to multiple audiences: current events buffs, Persepolis fans and those who just love a good yarn. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Pyongyang documents the two months French animator Delisle spent overseeing cartoon production in North Korea, where his movements were constantly monitored by a translator and a guide, who together could limit his activities but couldn't restrict his observations. He records everything from the omnipresent statues and portraits of dictators Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il to the brainwashed obedience of the citizens. Rather than conveying his disorientation through convoluted visual devices, Delisle uses a straightforward Eurocartoon approach that matter-of-factly depicts the mundane absurdities he faced every day. The gray tones and unembellished drawings reflect the grim drabness and the sterility of a totalitarian society. Delisle finds black comedy in the place, though, and makes small efforts at subversion by cracking jokes that go over the humorless translator's head and lending the guide a copy of 1984. Despite such humor, which made his sojourn bearable and overcame his alienation and boredom, Delisle maintains empathy. Viewing an eight-year-old accordion prodigy's robotic concert performance, he thinks, "It's all so cold . . and sad. I could cry." Gordon Flagg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
Most recent customer reviews
I was hoping to get at least some insight into the North Korean society, but I was left with a few sketches of a guy laughing at how silly people living under an oppressive regime... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Marco Todesco
I could give Delisle 5 stars on everything he's written and has yet to write.Published 14 months ago by Joey
For the past two nights I have had dreams about North Korea. I don't recall ever having had a recurring dream. Read morePublished on April 14 2011 by Craig Rowland
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. Read morePublished on Oct. 22 2006 by Mike Tancsa