Pyongyang A journey in North Korea

Guy Delisle

Book - 2005

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Subjects
Genres
Graphic novels
Published
Montréal : New York : Drawn & Quarterly ; Distributed in the USA by Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2005.
Edition
1st hardcover ed
Language
English
French
Item Description
Translation of: Pyongyang.
Physical Description
176 : chiefly ill., map ; 23 cm
ISBN
9781897299210
1896597890
Main Author
Guy Delisle (-)
Other Authors
Helge Dascher, 1965- (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Pyongyang documents the two months French animator Delisle spent overseeing cartoon production in North Korea, where his movements were constantly monitored by a translator and a guide, who together could limit his activities but couldn't restrict his observations. He records everything from the omnipresent statues and portraits of dictators Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il to the brainwashed obedience of the citizens. Rather than conveying his disorientation through convoluted visual devices, Delisle uses a straightforward Eurocartoon approach that matter-of-factly depicts the mundane absurdities he faced every day. The gray tones and unembellished drawings reflect the grim drabness and the sterility of a totalitarian society. Delisle finds black comedy in the place, though, and makes small efforts at subversion by cracking jokes that go over the humorless translator's head and lending the guide a copy of 1984. Despite such humor, which made his sojourn bearable and overcame his alienation and boredom, Delisle maintains empathy. Viewing an eight-year-old accordion prodigy's robotic concert performance, he thinks, "It's all so cold . . and sad. I could cry." ((Reviewed October 15, 2005)) Copyright 2005 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

In 2001, French-Canadian cartoonist Delisle traveled to North Korea on a work visa to supervise the animation of a children's cartoon show for two months. While there, he got a rare chance to observe firsthand one of the last remaining totalitarian Communist societies. He also got crappy ice cream, a barrage of propaganda and a chance to fly paper airplanes out of his 15th-floor hotel window. Combining a gift for anecdote and an ear for absurd dialogue, Delisle's retelling of his adventures makes a gently humorous counterpoint to the daily news stories about the axis of evil, a Lost in Translation for the Communist world. Delisle shifts between accounts of his work as an animator and life as a visitor in a country where all foreigners take up only two floors of a 50-story hotel. Delisle's simple but expressive art works well with his account, humanizing the few North Koreans he gets to know (including "Comrade Guide" and "Comrade Translator"), and facilitating digressions into North Korean history and various bizarre happenings involving brandy and bear cubs. Pyongyang will appeal to multiple audiences: current events buffs, Persepolis fans and those who just love a good yarn. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

One of the few Westerners granted access to North Korea documents his observations of the secretive society in this graphic travelogue that depicts the cultural alienation, boredom, and desires of ordinary North Koreans.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

A timely, rare and unpolitical look into the "Hermit Country"- North Korea.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Guy Delisle was born in Quebec City in 1966 and has spent the last decade living and working in the South of France with his wife and son. Delisle has spent ten years, mostly in Europe, working in animation, an experience that taught him about movement and drawing. He is now currently focusing on his cartooning. Delisle has written and drawn six graphic novels, includingPyongyang, his first graphic novel in English.A YALSA Best Book for Young AdultsA YALSA Great Graphic Novel for Teens Famously referred to as one of the "Axis of Evil" countries, North Korea remains one of the most secretive and mysterious nations in the world today. In early 2001 cartoonist Guy Delisle became one of the few Westerners to be allowed access to the fortress-like country. While living in the nation's capital for two months on a work visa for a French film animation company, Delisle observed what he was allowed to see of the culture and lives of the few North Koreans he encountered; his findings form the basis of this graphic novel."Guy Delisle is a wry 37-year-old French Canadian cartoonist whose work for a French animation studio requires him to oversee production at various Pacific Rim studios on the grim frontiers of free trade. His employer puts him up for months at a time in 'cold and soulless' hotel rooms where he suffers the usual maladies of the long-term boarder: cultural and linguistic alienation, boredom, and cravings for Western food and real coffee. Delisle depicts these sojourns into the heart of isolation in [the] brilliant graphic novel . . . Pyongyang."Foreign Affairs"Guy Delisle is a wry 37-year-old French Canadian cartoonist whose work for a French animation studio requires him to oversee production at various Pacific Rim studios on the grim frontiers of free trade. His employer puts him up for months at a time in 'cold and soulless' hotel rooms where he suffers the usual maladies of the long-term boarder: cultural and linguistic alienation, boredom, and cravings for Western food and real coffee. Delisle depicts these sojourns into the heart of isolation in [the] brilliant graphic novel . . . Pyongyang."Foreign Affairs"In 2001, French-Canadian cartoonist Delisle traveled to North Korea on a work visa to supervise the animation of a children's cartoon show for two months. While there, he got a rare chance to observe firsthand one of the last remaining totalitarian Communist societies. He also got crappy ice cream, a barrage of propaganda and a chance to fly paper airplanes out of his 15th-floor hotel window. Combining a gift for anecdote and an ear for absurd dialogue, Delisle's retelling of his adventures makes a gently humorous counterpoint to the daily news stories about the axis of evil, a Lost in Translation for the Communist world. Delisle shifts between accounts of his work as an animator and life as a visitor in a country where all foreigners take up only two floors of a 50-story hotel. Delisle's simple but expressive art works well with his account, humanizing the few North Koreans he gets to know (including 'Comrade Guide' and 'Comrade Translator'), and facilitating digressions into North Korean history and various bizarre happenings involving brandy and bear cubs. Pyongyang will appeal to multiple audiences: current events buffs,Persepolis fans, and those who just love a good yarn."Publishers Weekly "Pyongyang documents the two months French animator Delisle spent overseeing cartoon production in North Korea, where his movements were constantly monitored by a translator and a guide, who together could limit his activities but couldn't restrict his observations. He records everything from the omnipresent statues and portraits of dictators Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il to the brainwashed obedience of the citizens. Rather than conveying his disorientation through convoluted visual devices, Delisle uses a straightforward Eurocartoon approach that matter-of-factly depicts the mundane absurdities he faced every day. The gray tones and unembellished drawings reflect the grim drabness and the sterility of a totalitarian society. Delisle finds black comedy in the place, though, and makes small efforts at subversion by cracking jokes that go over the humorless translator's head and lending the guide a copy of1984. Despite such humor, which made his sojourn bearable and overcame his alienation and boredom, Delisle maintains empathy. Viewing an eight-year-old accordion prodigy's robotic concert performance, he thinks, 'It's all so cold . . and sad. I could cry.'"Gordon Flagg,Booklist

Review by Publisher Summary 4

As cameras are not allowed in North Korea, Pyongyang is a perfect example of the power of the graphic novel medium.Delisle's critically acclaimed memoir captures his two months spent in North Korea as an animator. As one of the few Westerners who is able to visit the country, without an overt political agenda, he is able to gain personal insight into one of the most secretive nations on the planet. He wants to learn about North Korean culture, but his omnipresent guides restrict him at every turn. Delisle tries to answer the neverending question: do the people support their government or are they too scared to revolt?