Without You, There Is No Us

by Suki Kim · read August 12, 2018

Review

The two qualities of this book that I liked: it was a unique perspective on male North Korean university students, and through it I learned more about certain aspects of North Korea and its history with South Korea/China/the US.

In contrast, there seemed to be a lot of features that I really didn't like. Certain elements of the author's interactions with the students seemed infantilizing and inconsistent. The author's distaste/willful misunderstanding of Christianity gets tedious and is never actually developed or explained. Also, she kept on making really forced/underdeveloped connections between North Koreans and Christians, which was just annoying. It felt like there was so much repetition in the story - details and anecdotes that would have been more interesting just blur together because she draws the same vague conclusions from everything. She also included far too much information about her own relationship (or lack thereof) while simultaneously including so few actual details that I wasn't compelled to care about that element of the book at all.

In short: I'm glad I read it for the content and new information, but as you can probably tell, the style, tone, and irrelevant content of the book really put me off it.

Julia Cooke © 2022