My Holiday in North Korea by Wendy E. Simmons


Title:  My Holiday in North Korea: The Funniest/Worst Place on Earth
Author: Wendy E. Simmons
Publisher:  Rosetta Books
Release Date:  May 3, 2016
Genre: Travel Memoir




Most people want out of North Korea. Wendy Simmons wanted in.

In My Holiday in North Korea: The Funniest/Worst Place on Earth, Wendy shares a glimpse of North Korea as it’s never been seen before. Even though it’s the scariest place on Earth, somehow Wendy forgot to check her sense of humor at the border.

But Wendy’s initial amusement and bewilderment soon turned to frustration and growing paranoia. Before long, she learned 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.

Through poignant, laugh-out-loud essays and 92 never-before-published color photographs of North Korea, Wendy chronicles one of the strangest vacations ever. Along the way, she bares all while undergoing an inner journey as convoluted as the country itself.


The title, My Holiday in North Korea: The Funniest / Worst Place on Earth had me intrigued. I mean, it's North Korea. How much do we know about this country and its people besides what we hear and see in the news. I was definitely interested. The author, Wendy Simmons spent 10 days, and this book serves as her travel photo log. The photos were great and it does give us a visual of the country and its inhabitants. Yet, it still took me some time to finish this book.  In honesty, the author has a talent for writing, as it reads easily, and at times humorous, but it also drips with sarcasm. Don't get me wrong, I get dry humor or sarcastic articulations. However, the condescending tone throughout is off-putting. That being said, I had to put the book down and return to it later in order to finish and write a review.  There's more I can say in relation to the verbiage, but it's not necessary. It really is disappointing, as I find the premise interesting and the photographs telling of a story.  Do I recommend My Holiday in North Korea? Yes and no. Yes for the idea and the photos. No, because I find the preconceptions and disdain of the author not something I enjoy. So in truth, I think it's up to you as the reader and your interest level.


NOTE:  I received a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own. For my review policy, please see my Disclosure page.


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Wendy Simmons won’t stop travelling until she visits every country in the world! Despite her hatred for packing, she’s managed to explore more than eighty-five so far―including territories and colonies―and chronicles her adventures on her blog, wendysimmons.com. Wendy is president of Vendeloo, a consultancy she founded in 2001, co-president of a NYC-based global eyewear brand, and an award-winning photographer. She’s also owned a bar in Manhattan, worked for a lobbying firm on Capitol Hill, and written a Japanese-language phrase book. Though her Japanese is now terrible, Wendy’s Pig Latin is flourishing. She graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from George Washington University. Wendy practices Muay Thai daily and lives in Brooklyn in a converted 1800s schoolhouse.


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