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Pyongyang : a journey in North Korea
2005
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Summary

A westerner's visit into North Korea, told in the form of a graphic novel.

Famously referred to as one of the "Axis of Evil" countries, North Korea remains one of the most secretive and mysterious nations in the world today. In early 2001 cartoonist Guy Delisle became one of the few Westerners to be allowed access to the fortresslike country. While living in the nation's capital for two months on a work visa for a French film animation company, Delisle observed what he was allowed to see of the culture and lives of the few North Koreans he encountered; his findingsform the basis of this remarkable graphic novel. Pyongyang is an informative, personal, and accessible look at a dangerous and enigmatic country.

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Booklist Review
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 2005 Booklist
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