Revisiting Guy Delisle's Graphic Novel, Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea
|Pyongyang, by Guy Delisle|
Canadian Québécois cartoonist and animator Guy Delisle's graphic novel Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea (English-language edition published by Drawn & Quarterly, Montréal, Québéc, Canada, 2006) is an eye-opening, delightful, and strange tale. Delisle's two-month stay in North Korea's reclusive capital of Pyongyang serves as both the setting and the story-line for the book. The title alone is enough to pique interest, and readers won't be disappointed. Delisle's short stay in "the Hermit Kingdom" provides sufficient laughs and insights to last 176 beautifully rendered pages.
|North Korean propaganda truck|
Delisle was born in Québéc in 1966, and studied animation in Toronto. His work as an animation supervisor took him to North Korea for two months in 2003. Tasked with supervising for a French animation production company and working within the constraining confines of the SEK, or Scientific and Educational Film Studio of Korea, Delisle had his hands full. Given the high cost of animation production, a lot of animation work is outsourced to Asia, and in particular to North Korea, for its low production costs. In Pyongyang, Delisle's day-to-life is filled with communication errors and misunderstandings, both linguistic and cultural in nature. As a foreigner from a capitalist nation, he has difficulty relating to the North Koreans, who are oppressed by, and obedient to, a totalitarian regime.
|The opening page of Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea|
|Author Delisle remembers his first moments in North Korea|
As someone who lives and works in South Korea, and who writes a blog about Korean daily life, I found the book fascinating. I could see similarities between the South and North, despite the fact that South Korea is rarely mentioned. With the world watching North Korea (the Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea or DPRK as it is formally known) and its newest leader Kim Jong Un, I believe this book will find a new following as readers search for an accessible insider's view of South Korea's puzzling brother to the north. I think Korean readers and those with ties to South Korea will also find this to be a valuable and interesting read, as it offers a glimpse into the secretive lives of the North Korean state. As the years roll by and the familial ties that bind North and South become weaker, young South Koreans must find a way to interpret their past and think about their relationship to their long-lost brothers in the North and the North's relationship to the world-at-large. This book attacks a very serious subject with humour and sensitivity and fills the void between fictive and academic writing about North Korea.
|Pyongyang, by Guy Delisle. Korean translation. |
Guy Delisle's Pyongyang is available in thirteen languages, including English, French, and Korean.
All photos used on this blog were retrieved July 30, 2012 from Guy Delisle's Pyonggyang website and his blog (French only).
- Busan, South Korea
- I'm a lucky young woman who has had the wonderful opportunity to live and travel in South Korea. My time here has taken me all over the country, and my blog follows those adventures. Enjoy!
- You can also find my wiritng on The Korea Blog, the official blog of the government of Korea