After eleven years in Beijing, Jasper Becker is a respected authority on China. Now the China correspondent for The Independent, he previously reported for The Guardian, the BBC, and the South China Morning Post. He is also the author of several books, notably Hungry Ghosts, the best study available of the great Chinese famine of 1959–61. Here he turns his hand, ably as ever, to laying out the horror that is North Korea.
It is a great pity, then, that OUP – of all publishers –permitted Becker to begin his book with an overheated imaginary introduction, eighteen pages long, about how a future nuclear war starts on the Korean peninsula, which he later concedes is highly unlikely. Skip this and go directly to Chapter One.
Few Westerners go to North Korea; the few who are stationed there are closely confined, and the yet fewer who travel to Pyongyang, the capital, to negotiate or report are even more rigorously limited in where they can go and whom they can interview. As far as I can make