“Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea” by Barbara Demick

 

Between The Interview debacle and Margaret Cho’s controversial impersonation of a North Korean general at the Golden Globes, North Korea has been a popular topic in the media as of late. However, as LA Times correspondent Barbara Demick reminds readers in her book Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, the North Korean people are suffering, starving and dying every day regardless of whether North Korea is trending in the American media news cycle or not.  In the book, Demick interviews six North Korean defectors all from the city of Chongjin. Unlike Pyongyang, the city of Chongjin is an industrial mining town off the eastern Coast, and one of the hardest hit by the 1996-99 famine.

Throughout the book, Demick helps tell the incredibly human life stories of these six ordinary people without any sentimentality or gloss. They think, they observe, they love, they grow hungry, they escape, and they don’t forget what they’ve seen and experienced during their time in North Korea. Some of these defectors, still haunted by their past, even have trouble adjusting to life in South Korea years after their escape. Demick commits to telling these stories with sobering realism and refuses to sensationalize their stories for easy digestion. As Demick said herself in a Reddit AMA, “the outlandish stories take away from the real tragedy– which is that millions of North Koreans perish slowly, painfully as a result of chronic malnutrition.”

Details: Paperback, $9, amazon.com

 

nothingtoenvy

 

 


Margaret Cho Responds to Accusations of Racism For Her Golden Globes Sketch

 

With all the controversy surrounding The Interview and the cyberattack on Sony, we can’t say we didn’t expect at least a few North Korea jokes from Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, the hosts of last night’s Golden Globes. However, no one seems to have been prepared for the skit from Margaret Cho– one which has been a topic of controversy since it aired.

It goes without saying that Margaret Cho was a prominent figure at the Golden Globes this year. While this would normally call for a celebration (there’s hardly ever any Asian American representation at this event at all), this actually left some viewers uncomfortable. After all, Cho did not appear on stage as herself. Instead, she was “Cho Young Ja,” a North Korean army general and journalist.

With an over-powdered face and an exaggerated accent, Cho Young Ja commented on the Golden Globes by saying, “You no have thousand baby playing guitar at the same time. You no have people holding up many card to make one big picture. You no have Dennis Rodman.”

Of course that wasn’t all. The general also commented on Netflix’s Orange in the New Black (“It’s funny, but not ha-ha funny… Also, Piper and Alex’s relationship is very toxic”) and even demanded a picture with Meryl Streep.

 


As you can imagine, this appearance was met with a storm of mixed reviews. On one hand, there were more than a few viewers who believed her skit was blatantly racist.

“First of all, let’s just call Margaret Cho’s long, dwindling joke at the Golden Globes last night what it was: yellowface,” writes  on Vulture. “Hollywood needed a punching bag after the Sony hack and ensuing debacle with The Interview, and Cho willingly suited up.”

Others took to twitter to share their dislike.

 

 

However, as the aftermath continued, there seemed to be a change of course. More and more viewers stood up to defend Cho and her skit.

 

 

It was only a matter of time before Margaret Cho chimed in on the controversy by speaking to Buzzfeed:

I’m of North and South Korean descent, and I do impressions of my family and my work all the time, and this is just another example of that. I am from this culture. I am from this tribe. And so I’m able to comment on it.

When we have British people playing American icons, there’s no backlash. But for Asian-Americans, it’s a very particular set of expectations that we are set to maintain, and that in itself is racist.

I think that we’re being held down by that incredible tide of invisibility that we’re constantly fighting. Whenever there is visibility, it’s shocking. Whenever there is visibility on our terms, it’s shocking. That’s why any visibility is so highly scrutinized. I’m so used to it that it doesn’t alarm me, it doesn’t bother me.

 

I welcome the controversy. And I don’t care.

 


 

Feature Photo Courtesy of latimes.com

Margaret Cho to Co-Host TLC Late-Night Talkshow ‘All About Sex’

Late-night television, meet Margaret Cho. TLC has recently ordered six episodes of Cho’s new show which certainly emphasizes the “love” portion of TLC.

Cho, who is best-known for All American Girl (1994)is meeting her next milestone with her new late-night talk show All About Sex. Cho will be co-hosting the panel show with fellow comedian Heather McDonald, actress Marissa Jaret Winokur and Dr. Tiffanie Davis Henry, an Atlanta-based sex and relationship counselor.

TLC, which normally likes shows with a docu-soap format feel, is taking on All About Sex, despite its The View-style formatting.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/margaret-cho-hosts-tlc-late-756750

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/margaret-cho-hosts-tlc-late-756750

The show, from Relativity Television and Ellen Rakieten Entertainment, will have half-hour episodes and is set up like a forum for weekly dissection of all sex in American culture. With three female hosts, issues will include deconstructing and disproving misconceptions of intimacy and how women handle sex and vulnerability.

Cho is no stranger to discussing her sex life. In 2012, Cho openly discussed her sexuality on The Wendy Williams Show.

All About Sex is set to premiere January 10 at 11 p.m., following the well-received “Sex Sent Me to the ER.”

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