Written and Illustrated by : Guy Delisle
Available by: Drawn & Quarterly Publications
I found this original graphic novel in the local library, and given current events, I thought I would give it a read. What was going to be a quick curiosity-read turned into a consuming journey through the world’s most isolated country. Delislie, a Canadian animator travels to North Korea for a job, and was able to chronicle his observations while he was there for two months.
As an American, I have been pretty ignorant of North Korea. I know of the “Forgotten War” and watched M.A.S.H. with my Grandfather. I talked with a few South Koreans at college about where they are from, I remember Matt Stone and Trey Parker going after Kim Jong-il and I remember watching a documentary about the country on National Geographic. But after that, I don’t know squat. Guy Delislie uses his talents for illustration and tells the story of his visit, and what he experienced, and now I feel as though I know a bit more about North Korea.
I am a sucker for factoids, I love reading about places I would not be likely to ever visit, and I especially love to challenge my views. Pyongyang – A Journey In North Korea hit the rights spots. Small Facts about the lack of electricity, landmarks of North Korean pride and history, and the fact that I will probably never ever visit this country made this book a fascinating read. Guy Delislie doesn’t try and strange storytelling techniques, or any new conventional illustration styles. It’s a straightforward, linear account of his time spent there, and it makes this foreign place easily digestible. The drawings are more cartooning than illustration which probably make the sober, un-reality of North Korea easily digestible, and Guy still accurately draws the monuments like the Olympic hotel and the monuments.
What I was most fascinated with was despite being isolated for almost 2 months, Delislie seldom offers a strong opinion of what he has observed. He simply chronicles his observations plainly, and in the rare instance where he interjects contrary opinion it usually serves to further illustrate the vast differences between North Korea and the rest of the globe. This book was just a fascinating tale, and I am looking forward to reading the rest of his books.