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James Donaldson’s Book Review – The Real North Korea by Andrei Lankov

Book summary:

I found this to be a fascinating book on North Korea, and gauging from the lack of accurate information via our media in the United States, and also some pretty strong biased misconceptions about North Korea, the author goes into great deal to help us understand how this nation state came to be, implemented its family hierarchy of rulers, continues to seek and gain support from other nations around the world to continue its existence.

The Real North KoreaI learned a lot about the early beginnings of North Korea, which was established during the Korean War back in the 1950s. North Korea was aided by the Russians/USSR, and South Korea was aided by the Americans. It was a typical communism versus the western styled ways of living. And a vast and vicious war broke out between the two Koreas, which never ended in an actual signing of a peace treaty, but split the country into two with the North Koreans occupying the northern half of the country and existing for several decades with the aid of the USSR. Once the USSR went down, North Korea found itself desperately floundering and hanging onto the absolute power that the rulers have.

I am one of the few Americans who is actually had a chance to travel to North Korea back in 2011, and I traveled with a nonprofit humanitarian group of Americans who have gone in and out of North Korea over the last 25 years perhaps 100 times. It was a fascinating experience, and even though our tour was highly monitored and choreographed, we still got a chance to see a lot of the up close and personal, every day life of the average North Koreans.

I recently was watching the Showtime production of former basketball great, Dennis Rodman as he went to North Korea and took a team of former North Korean Computer Lab Center - 2012NBA players with him in 2013. Of course, everything turned out to be a fiasco in having someone like Dennis Rodman in charge of things, but it was a great experience North Korean Trip - Novemberr 2012 210for those players to see North Korea and actually conduct a “friendly” basketball game there between themselves and one of the North Korean national basketball teams. I spoke to several of the former NBA players since then, and even though they were “scared to death and unsure of how things would turn out”, they all thought it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to try to bring about diplomacy through basketball. I admire what their mission and purpose was, but it all got bogged down and mired up in the craziness that is Dennis Rodman.

It’s very difficult to get our media to give fair and unbalanced news reporting’s about North Korea, but in doing some of the work I do with the nonprofit humanitarian group I work with, I’ve been privy to learn a lot about North Korea, and even though they are at times seemingly “reckless” and full of “propaganda”, the real and average people who live there, are only trying to be like everyone else in the world, and build a better standard of living for themselves.

The author points out that perhaps in the next 10 to 20 years, there will be a revolution of sorts in North Korea, and that will be there eliminate the family hierarchy of Kim Jung Un, or seriously bring about some reform and change that will benefit the North Korean people finally.

Right now, most of North Korea’s aid comes from China, but it is an uneasy relationship at best, and hopefully, China can continue to talk sense into North Korea from doing anything overly provocative or crazy.James Donaldson and North Korean Head Basketball Official - 2012 James in Pyongyang Square - 2012

All in all, this is a fantastic book about the history and inner workings of North Korea, where they are now, and possibly where they are heading in the next couple of decades. Terrific reading, without the usual built-in bias, based on an author who actually went to school in North Korea and grew up there for several years, so he has a very good understanding of what North Korea is all about.

 

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