North Korea is quite possibly the most horrifying example in modern times of a single man (or “dynasty”) holding unquestioned sway over tens of millions of people. In Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, Barbara Demick lays out in heart-rending detail the circumstances of daily life for the unfortunate majority in that benighted country.
The unlucky -- the ghastly -- part of Mi-ran's experience was that when she encountered the 5- and 6-year-olds who were to be her classroom charges, she noted that they "looked no bigger to her than three- and four-year-olds" and might have been present only to eat the school's free lunch, a soup constituted from leaves and salt. Over time, attendance thinned ominously, from 50 children to 15. As Barbara Demick writes in "Nothing to Envy," a piercing account of the lives of a handful of North Korean refugees, Mi-ran "described watching her five- and six-year-old pupils die of starvation. As her students were dying, she was supposed to teach them that they were blessed to be North Korean." The Beijing bureau chief of the Los Angeles Times, Demick takes her title from a song of national pride that teachers commonly had their classes sing, which claimed, "We have nothing to envy in the world."Communism is the most powerful proof in history of the statement made by political philosopher Michael Oakeshott that “the conjunction of dreaming and ruling generates tyranny.” This is particularly true in a society where government is rooted in the dreams of an egomaniacal sadist.