Writer: Guy Delisle
Artist: Guy Delisle
Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly
The perennial graphic novel about a “hermit country,” with a new cover and an introduction by Gore Verbinski
Guy Delisle’s Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea is the graphic novel that made his career, an international bestseller for more than ten years. Delisle became one of the few Westerners to be allowed access to the fortress-like country when he was working in animation for a French company.
While living in the nation’s capital for two months on a work visa, Delisle observed everything he was allowed to see of the culture and lives of the few North Koreans he encountered, bringing a sardonic and skeptical perspective on a place rife with propaganda. As a guide to the country, Delisle is a non-believer with a keen eye for the humor and tragedy of dictatorial whims, expressed in looming architecture and tiny, omnipresent photos of the president. The absurd vagaries of everyday life become fodder for a frustrated animator’s musings as boredom and censorship sink in. Delisle himself is the ideal foil for North Korean spin, the grumpy outsider who brought a copy of George Orwell’s 1984 with him into the totalitarian nation.
Pyongyang is an informative, personal, and accessible look at a dangerous and enigmatic country.