My Holiday In North Korea
THE FUNNIEST/WORST PLACE ON EARTH
I stood in the rain with my North Korean handlers (a.k.a. guards) as we waited for our car.
“Very lucky. Nice sunny day,” observed the older one.
And with that I tumbled dizzily, like Alice, down the rabbit hole.
“My Holiday in North Korea: The Funniest / Worst Place on Earth” by Wendy E. Simmons: You remember “Eat, Love, Pray” and “Under the Tuscan Sun”? Yeah, this really isn’t like those. It’s better.”
"...funny, witty, and fascinating.... Did I expect NoKo officials trying to pitch what a great and amazing country that they live in? Of course, but the beauty of this book is that with Wendy’s brilliant sense of humor and sarcasm, we know it’s all lies and a facade.... if you have a weird fascination of North Korea and need a little laughter and raw utter truth as to what it is like vacationing there then I urge you to go read this book."
“…an irresistible read…. Simmons presents a rare and fascinating look at the tourist's North Korea in a work that is humorous, appalling, and very sad. A highly recommended and revealing glimpse into a secretive land.”
“A death-defying adventure, filled with despair and tiny pieces of hope, and beautiful—I wish I was as brave as Wendy.”
—James Altucher, bestselling author, entrepreneur, podcaster
PHOTOGRAPHER WENDY SIMMONS WANTED IN.
A born explorer, she is thrilled when granted a rare entry visa—despite the country’s penchant for detaining tourists.
In My Holiday in North Korea: The Funniest/Worst Place on Earth. Wendy offers readers a glimpse of North Korea as it’s never been seen before. Because even though it’s one of the scariest places on Earth, she somehow forgets to check her sense of humor at the border. Even worse, she’s never met a rule she didn’t want to break!
Oh my Dear Leader.
But Wendy’s initial amusement and bewilderment soon turn into frustration and growing paranoia.
For ten days, she hurtles through a “North Korea is Great! America is Not!” tour. She’s attached by a virtual shock-collar to two female handlers who monitor her every step—and guard their every word. And Wendy’s pretty convinced one of them is crazy, even by North Korean standards.
Worse, she can’t seem to get a straight answer from anyone, ever. “Everyone in North Korea lies to you about everything, all the time. Doesn’t matter what, who, or why, or whether it’s small stuff or big stuff. And when they aren’t outright lying to you, they’re either purposely unclear, or evasive.”
Since any response Wendy gets is equally likely to be true or not true, it’s no wonder she slowly begins to question her sanity.
Before long, she learns the essential conundrum of “tourism” in North Korea.
“Travel is truly a love affair. But, just like love, it’s a two-way street. And North Korea deprives you of all this. They want you to fall in love with the singular vision of the country they’re willing to show you and nothing more.”
But Wendy can’t help but search for cracks in the façade.
Through poignant and laugh-out-loud essays, Wendy chronicles one of the strangest vacations ever. Along the way she bares all while trying to befriend her enigmatic minders and undergoes an inner journey as convoluted as the country itself.
“Writer and photographer Wendy Simmons shares a personal account of her vacation to one of the most reclusive nations on the planet. During her journey she finds herself caught between an international crisis sparked by the film The Interview and accidentally crashing the ‘wedding’ of a North Korean bride to be.”
—Buzzfeed’s Gabriel Sanchez
“My Holiday In North Korea by the very funny Wendy Simmons is a must-read for anyone who wants to lift the veil and spy on the real North Korea. But more than that, it is Ms. Simmons’ ease at being a traveler to distant and strange lands that gives this book its unusual insight into what people behind a real iron curtain think, and yes, feel.”
—Maria T. Lennon, Novelist, a screenwriter,
and the author of Confessions of a So-called Middle Child,
and Making It Up as I Go Along
“Wendy Simmons traveled to a place few of us will ever go and found herself in the ultimate Potemkin Village. Her intrepid desire to discover the reality behind the stagecraft escorts the reader through My Holiday in North Korea with words and pictures that render this mysterious country both knowable and unknowable, and always fascinating. Simmons’ insightful and funny storytelling evocatively captures the deception, corruption, humor and, ultimately, anguished humanity of a bizarre nation. It’s a wild trip.”
—Jon Reiner, James Beard Award-winning author of
The Man Who Couldn’t Eat