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Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea Paperback – Mar 31 2007

3.9 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly; 1 edition (March 31 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1897299214
  • ISBN-13: 978-1897299210
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 1.2 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #13,158 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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.

From Booklist

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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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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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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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Graphic novels have the benefit of being able to play with genre, and this work does that splendidly. I would describe this piece as a creative travelogue. Well humoured and delightfully descriptive.
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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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Despite cartoon format very incisive and revealing.
Worth reading more than once, dense, deep.
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