Tuesday, August 8, 2017

I recently read, Without You There Is No Us, by Suki Kim.

Suki chronicles her time as an undercover journalist, while also working as a teacher, in North Korea.  She teaches at PUST, Pyongyang University of Science and Technology.  There, she teaches English to young adult males.

Through the book, Suki draws us into her universe where communication with the world outside the schoolyard walls is severely hampered.  She speaks of a sense of exhaustion that comes from being "on guard" throughout much of her waking hours.  

She describes the students as a few decades delayed in their knowledge of world events and pop culture.  For example, they know of Michael Jordan but not LeBron James.  They know the Beatles, but they have never read Harry Potter.  
It is very hard to picture that these scenes occur in 2011.

Class topics must be approved and private discussions are strictly monitored.
Rare field trips off campus are supervised and often are a charade performed by local townspeople.  The bus rides for long stretches, 90 miles, without passing another car.  

Along these routes, Suki notices young children occasionally sitting along the roadside.  
She realizes, these roads are their front porches.  
These roads are their town squares.  

I recommend the read.  

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