Suki Kim's investigation, "Without You, There Is No Us: My Time with the Sons of North Korea's Elite," chronicles her six months undercover in Pyongyang during Kim Jong-Il's final six months. She worked as a teacher and a missionary in a university for future leaders — all while writing her book.

Why you should listen

Suki Kim is the only writer to ever go undercover into North Korea to write a book from the inside. Since 2002, South Korean-born Kim travelled to North Korea, witnessing both Kim Jong-Il's 60th birthday celebration and his death at age 69 in 2011. 

Her work sheds a new light on the understanding of the North Korean society by delving into its day-to-day life and provides unprecedented insights into the psychology of its ruling class, about whom the world knows very little.

Kim's novel, The Interpreter, was a finalist for a PEN Hemingway Prize, and her nonfiction has appeared in The New York Times, Harper's and The New York Review of Books. She is the author of the investigation Without You, There Is No Us: My Time with the Sons of North Korea's Elite.


What others say

“It's like no other book I've ever read. It's a look into a society and culture objectively, yet humanizing, terrifying, amazing.” — Jon Stewart, The Daily Show

Suki Kim’s TED talk

More news and ideas from Suki Kim


Pop-Up Magazine: The engrossing talks of Session 8 of TED2015

March 19, 2015

Pop-Up Magazine is “something like a reading,” only not. This unique show brings the glossy pages of a general interest magazine to life, telling real-life stories in a vortex of sight, sound and spectacle. And they have curated Session 8 of TED2015. A tour of the 11 stories woven on the TED stage: Believe in Magik*. The lights […]

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We humans

What I learned from teaching English in North Korea

March 18, 2015

Born and raised in Seoul, Suki Kim posed as an English teacher at an all-male university in Pyongyang run by evangelical Christians; she spent six months teaching the 19-year-old sons of North Korea’s ruling class. In this excerpt from her book, she describes the experience.

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