Format Hardcover
Publication Date 07/15/15
ISBN 9781605988023
Trim Size / Pages 9.3 x 6.4 in / 336

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North Korea Undercover

Inside the World's Most Secret State

John Sweeney

An authoritative and, at times, frightening investigation into the dark side of North Korean society.

North Korea is like no other tyranny on earth. Its citizens are told their home is the greatest nation on earth. Big Brother is always watching: It is Orwell's 1984 made reality.

Award-winning BBC journalist John Sweeney is one of the few foreign journalists to have witnessed the devastating reality of life in the controversial and isolated nation of North Korea, having entered the country undercover, posing as a university professor with a group of students from the London School of Economics.

Huge factories with no staff or electricity; hospitals with no patients; uniformed child soldiers; and the world-famous and eerily empty DMZ—the DeMilitarized Zone, where North Korea ends and South Korea begins—all framed by the relentless flow of regime propaganda from omnipresent loudspeakers. Free speech is an illusion: one word out of line and the gulag awaits. State spies are everywhere, ready to punish disloyalty and the slightest sign of discontent.

Drawing on his own experiences and his extensive interviews with defectors and other key witnesses, Sweeney's North Korea Undercover pulls back the curtain, providing a rare insight into life there today, examining the country's troubled history and addressing important questions about its uncertain future.

John Sweeney is a reporter for BBC Panorama. Before joining the BBC in 2001, Sweeney worked for twelve years at The Observer. He has helped free seven innocent people falsely convicted for killing their babies and given evidence against six war criminals in The Hague. Over the course of his career John has won one Emmy, two Royal Television Society prizes, one Sony Gold award, the What The Papers Say Journalist of The Year Prize, an Amnesty International prize and the Paul Foot Award. He is the author of eight books.

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Endorsements & Reviews

“Sweeney's book is a spark in the dark of North Korea.” The Times
“An explosive and entertaining inside look at North Korea. Sweeney spins off from the physical places into zany yet tragic stories about North Korea’s rulers and the bizarre complacency of the country’s people. An investigative must-read.” Booklist
“In a carefully footnoted and documented work, Sweeney has done his homework in this account of his strange and troubling visit inside North Korea.” Kirkus Reviews
“Award-winning author, journalist, and BBC documentarian Sweeney reports on his eight-day trip to North Korea while posing as a London School of Economics student.” Library Journal
“The recent UN report on North Korea underlined the importance of Sweeney's book. There is much to learn from North Korea Undercover.” Literary Review
“Harrowing...creepy and poignant; and, in turn, tragic and obscene. North Korea Undercover asserts that the West should be more concerned about labour camps than nuclear weapons.” Sunday Business Post
“This is a chilling book, but a timely one, written with both humour and compassion. Buy it, read it, and discuss it.” Solidarity