Sunday, July 3, 2011

I Recommend: Pyongyang

Find this graphic novel at: [Amazon] [Borders] [Barnes & Noble]

North Korea is easily one of the most closed-off, secretive countries on the planet. Very few foreigners are allowed to visit, and photography is forbidden aside from select locations, rendering most outsider accounts of the nation text-only productions.

Guy Delisle's travelogue Pyongyang is a rare and worthwhile exception.

The book documents his two-month stay in North Korea's capitol as an animator, sent to oversee animation work outsourced there by a French studio. While his visit is as strictly chaperoned as any, the comics format allows him to peer through the cracks in the supposedly happy, healthy country, illustrating sights and events he would never be allowed to record with electronic devices. (Or, for that matter, non-electronic ones - the majority of the book was produced after his visit, from sketches and memory.)

Pyongyang shows the rest of the world just how strange and contradictory North Korea can be at times. It's a nation that both rejects the West and attempts to emulate it, where citizens claim to adore their government and yet spend half of every conversation glancing over their shoulders.

Guy Delisle has two other travelogues, one detailing his stay in China (titled Shenzhen) and another detailing his stay in Burma (titled The Burma Chronicles.) All three are excellent reads.

1 comment:

  1. Bought, bought and bought! Thanks for the recommendation! This is just the stuff I like to read :)