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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea by Guy Delisle

WOW! An anti-Communist Manifesto

Published by Drawn and Quarterly in 2005

Right off the bat, Delisle shows where he is heading in this anti-communist manifesto when he tells how he snuck a copy of George Orwell's "1984" into North Korea (a banned book) - any moderately well-read person can identify the constant presence of the photos of "The Great Leader" and "The Dear Leader" with Orwell's omnipresent "Big Brother". It is intended to be a bit of foreshadowing to tell the reader where he is going with the book - and he hits a home run with it! This is an anti-communist triumph from beginning to end - not with the soaring rhetoric of a Kennedy or a Reagan, but rather with its gentle story-telling style and its simple emphasis on communism's absurdities - from the lack of information, to the lack of food, electricity and choices of what to watch on TV and listen to on the radio. The constant barrage of revolutionary songs and the presence of "volunteers" who sweep an empty 4 lane highway to nowhere with straw brooms are perfect illustrations of the bizarre nature of both communism and North Korea.

I first heard about this book from an interview on NPR. Unfortunately, the NPR reviewer hadn't done much reading of the graphic novel and hadn't really figured out what the book was all about. So, I was not expecting much more than a lightweight travelogue in graphic novel form about a controversial country. Instead, I was pleased to see that it was that and so much more. This is one not to miss.

I rate this graphic novel 5 stars out of 5.

This graphic novel can be found on Amazon.com here: Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea by Guy Delisle.

Reviewed on October 29, 2006.

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