FDL Book Salon Welcomes Andrei Lankov, The Real North Korea: Life and Politics in the Failed Stalinist Utopia

By: Saturday June 1, 2013 1:59 pm

Andrei Lankov’s book, The Real North Korea: Life and Politics in the Failed Stalinist Utopia, includes a brief though useful history of the country’s foundation, an essential review of the impact of the DPRK’s economic decline, an explanation of the North’s domestic and foreign policy strategies, and a pragmatic exploration of policy options. The book, though rich in information and analysis, remains accessible to the general reader, in part because it is peppered with illuminating vignettes and anecdotes.

Lankov is well-known in North Korea policy circles, especially for his condemnation of human rights abuses and impatience with economic policy choices that have the left the DPRK far poorer than its neighbors. Yet Lankov corrects the irritating and unhelpful tendency to view North Korea as a nation of evil perpetrators and their helpless victims. Instead, he describes a society of ordinary people who are not “brainwashed automatons,” an all-too-common assumption of human rights activists who want to “save” the North Korean people. It helps that unlike many authors writing in English he is fluent in Korean and therefore able to draw on a wide range of sources, including interviews with Koreans and reviews of North Korean propaganda.

 

FDL Movie Night: Vice Guide to North Korea

By: Monday January 2, 2012 5:00 pm

Wow, just wow. The sheer balls of this documentary. Shane Smith and his unseen buddy cameraman Jamie back-doored themselves into North Korea with point-and-shoot cameras, and proceeded to make a very jaw-dropping, ballsy documentary / travelogue that culminates with the Mass Games. The Arirang Festival: 120,000 people in a choreographed show which Smith explains is “The only reason tourists are allowed into North Korea.”

US Was About to Announce Food Aid for North Koreans, Before Kim Jong-Il’s Death

By: Monday December 19, 2011 7:46 am

The death of Kim Jong-il comes just as the United States was about to re-engage with North Korea, a plan now thrown into doubt because of the succession to Kim Jong-un. Hours before Kim’s death, news leaked about an imminent large grain shipment to North Korea, seen as an olive branch to restart talks on the country’s nuclear program.

North Korea Shells South Korean Island

By: Tuesday November 23, 2010 6:54 am

Overnight, North Korea fired artillery shells at Yeonpyeong, an inhabited South Korean island, prompting a response from South Korea and the scrambling of fighter jets. At least four soldiers were wounded in the attack, and according to the BBC two marines died.

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