Jean Paul Floru has written a fascinating and well-informed account of North Korea. It is deeply disturbing. The book, The Sun Tyrant (Biteback 2017), is absorbing throughout. JP combines his personal experiences of a recent visit with well-researched data, anecdotes and commentary by others, including defectors, to build up a graphic picture of what life is like in today’s living embodiment of Orwell’s 1984.
It is a horrifying portrait of totalitarian control, of a people brainwashed from birth into adulation of brutal dictatorship that imprisons or executes people at will for such offences as failing to show sufficient respect to the great leader’s statue, or in one case, of leaving a newspaper with his photograph lying disrespectfully on a bench.
The people starve, or survive by eating tree bark and grass. They have none of the economic amenities taken for granted in the developed world, such things as electric power in hospitals, or hot water to wash in. They have to live where the state tells them to, and are forced to work in jobs they are assigned to, even if they have to do so without being paid for months.
They are sustained by a propaganda machine blaring from loudspeakers and glaring from lurid posters, that tells them that American imperialism and Japanese lust for conquest threaten their existence. The war threat motivates the populace to accept sacrifice and deprivation.
This is the nation developing nuclear bombs and intercontinental missiles. One is left at the end of JP’s excellent account with the feeling that this will not end well. It is a gripping read.