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It’s long been clear that these defectors’ tales link up, reference and corroborate each other, creating an undeniable picture of fear, starvation, brutality, and repression. Two such books are The Aquariums of Pyongyang and Nothing to Envy, which remain as arguably the two best defector books that you can read.
Along with the changing foliage and increased incidence of the word “chueo” ("[I'm] cold") on Korean streets, one of the telltale signs of fall around the peninsula is a pervasive smell that has often been likened to a melange of rancid butter, gym socks, and vomit.
Since 1982, Michael Breen has written about the two Koreas, first as a correspondent for The Guardian and The Washington Times, and later as...