I would give this more a 4.5 star rating if I could. Cha does an excellent job of laying out the history of North Korea and its relationships with the rest of the world. I liked that he interspersed his personal experiences with more academic analysis, and thought that it led to a good narrative that guided the book well throughout. I'm not sure if each chapter is supposed to be somewhat self-contained, but there were enough repetitive phrasings that I thought detracted from the flow of book. That is, the same facts would be repeated (they were good background facts, but I often felt that it hadn't been that long ago that I had read it). Cha is very clear when he is giving his opinions on what can and should be done, and I always appreciate that straightforwardness. Even if you disagree, he lays out his reasons well and acknowledges he could be wrong. As a historical note, it is interesting that this book came out as Kim Jong-un came to power and Cha thought he may not last. That prediction didn't come true (though Cha also says he wouldn't have been surprised by what is the current status quo, either).
If you want to know more about North Korea (it has a somewhat surprising history, as the richer Korea for much of the Cold War) this is a great book to start with. It covers what we know and points out there is much we do not. The chapter on human rights in North Korea is very moving, as it relates the terrible conditions that can exist for people in North Korea.
As a minor correction, the book incorrectly lists one of the locations for some of the Japanese (Ichikawa Shuichi and Masumoto Rumiko) who were kidnapped by North Korea. The book says "were going to the beach in Fukushima, on the very southern tip of of Japan, to watch the sunset". Fukushima is not the southern tip of Japan, and it should be Kagoshima on Kyushu.
- Paperback: 544 pages
- Publisher: VINTAGE ARROW - MASS MARKET; 1 edition (15 August 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0099578654
- ISBN-13: 978-0099578659
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.4 x 19.8 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 399 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 464,177 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)