Postcard from the edge: Pyongyang by Guy Delisle

Animation is big business in North Korea. It sounds surprising but Delisle assures me that it is true. Scores of foreign cartoonists and animators spend time working in Pyongyang’s studios. As part of his job, Delisle served two months working in Pyongyang – walking the smart streets and enduring the fake smiles – and then came home and wrote this fascinating insight into the world’s strangest regime.

His simple but sophisticated drawings reveal the North Korean’s character, at the same time as telling a wonderful story. Delisle’s book does not have a plot as such; it is a mere collection of events and anecdotes about North Korea. But for that reason alone it is an incredibly valuable artifact. His disinterest in politics (other than, at the most obvious level, Pyongyang’s stunning absurdity) is also noteworthy. His view is surprisingly refreshing, as it takes a superficial glance at North Korea. In this way, it manages to make a stronger point than one would with a political polemic. Subtle, humble and immensely entertaining, Delisle’s book should be read by anyone interested in that odd, worrying little country.

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