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Morten Traavik

  • Publication date: January 2018
  • Publisher: ASCHEHOUG
  • Country: NO
  • 332 print pages
  • Factual/Memoirs


  • Epoch: Contemporary
  • Time Period: 21st century
  • Location setting: North Korea
  • Themes: PEOPLE facing life, Looking back on one's life, SOCIETY DYSFUNCTIONS, Power, Totalitarian regime, War and other conflicts, Duality between North and South, SOCIAL CHRONICLES, Multiculturalism, Integration, Commitment


A guide to North Korea by an artist who traveled there creating art projects in collaboration with the country’s authorities.


A unique and quite fun exploration of one of the world’s most fascinating and disturbing nations.


Morten Traavik is an artist and theatre director working across several media, who is known for his ‘interventionist art’, incorporating elements of art and activism.


A travel guide, history, and portrait of North Korea, based on the author’s many visits, during which he made art projects in collaboration with the notoriously secretive country’s authorities. In the autumn of 2017, a geopolitical standoff, a nuclear test and a death threat made him suspend the relationship. Here he tells the story of his time in the DPRK. Through the story of his friendship with the civil servant and Party member Mr Win, and encyclopaedia-style entries on the monuments and historical events of the country, the author aims to bring readers closer to the daily lives of North Koreans, whom he sees as striving against all odds to live normal and dignified lives in the ever-looming shadow of the Kim dynasty.

His travels expose the lesser-known and funnier side of North Korea, from «Ground Zero» at the world’s most militarized border, with South Korea, through the showcase capital Pyongyang and up north to the Yalu river and the bridge to China. He explores the moments that have defined the country’s trajectory over the past century, and looks at how the regime uses propaganda to tie the population ever closer to the combined mother-father figures of the Kims. Finally he examines his own relationship to the country: his fond fascination, his project of taking a picture of himself holding a disco ball in front of every major monument, and the falling-out with Mr Win that led to him cutting ties with North Korea.

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