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Must-read books about North Korea

Daniel Tudor, journalist and co-author of North Korea Confidential

Written by
Hahna Yoon

Interested in learning even more? Here are the books you gotta check out as chosen by Daniel Tudor, journalist and co-author of North Korea Confidential. 

Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader by Bradley Martin:

A total doorstop of a book on the historic origins and development of the North Korean monarchy. Thankfully though, it is as readable as it is authoritative. 

나는평양의모니카입니다 by Monica Macias:

Literally translated as “I am Pyongyang’s Monica,” this one is in Korean, but I hope someone translates it. It is the story of an extraordinary childhood spent in North Korea by an outsider. 


A Thousand Miles To Freedom by Sebastien Falletti and Kim Eun-sun:

This book reads like a thriller, and is also a touching human story. It is also a shocking account of famine in North Korea, and the way some humans exploit other humans. 

I Saw the Truth of History (나는 역사의 진리를 보았다) by Hwang Jang Yop:

This is available in English on the DailyNK website. Hwang's defection story leaves me somewhat skeptical, but as an insider account of the Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il years—and how things degenerated over that time—it makes for [a] fascinating and sad reading.


North Korean House of Cards by Ken Gause:

To my knowledge, this is the only detailed account of the power structure in North Korea in the Kim Jong-un era. The title sounds a bit over-dramatic, but the information contained within is really illuminating.

The Real North Korea by Andrei Lankov:

Lankov is the daddy when it comes to all things North Korean scholarship-related, so if he says that it’s the real North Korea, then it’s the real North Korea.


Honorable mentions to: Only Beautiful Please, by John Everard; A Capitalist in North Korea, by Felix Abt; The Man with the Baltic Stare, by James Church.

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