Young Professionals: Author Suki Kim's "Without You, There Is No Us"


In collaboration with World Affairs Council of Houston

Photo by Ed Kashi

Every day, three times a day, students march in two straight lines, singing praises to Kim Jong Il and North Korea. It is a chilling scene, but gradually Suki Kim learns the tune and, without noticing, begins to hum it herself. The year is 2011 and Suki has accepted a job teaching English to the children of the elite at the prisonlike complex of Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST). Although she's covered North Korea for years as a journalist, the regimented foreign press tours reveal very little of the repressive regime, and so she has chosen to live under its watchful eye.

Soon she grows attached to her students, whose naivete and obedience to the regime she finds heartbreaking. Over time, she cautiously hints at the existence of a world beyond their own—at exotic activities such as surfing the Internet and, more dangerously, electoral democracy. The students in turn offer Suki tantalizing glimpses into their lives outside the university walls. Then Kim Jong Il dies, leaving the students devastated, and leading Suki to question whether the gulf between her world and theirs can ever be bridged.

Her book, Without You, There Is No Us, will be available for purchase and signing at the program.


Related Links

Asia Blog: Interview: Suki Kim Aims to Depict 'Human World' of North Korea in Undercover Memoir

Suki Kim: Official Website

Slate Magazine: Teaching Essay Writing in Pyongyang (Book Excerpt)

NPR: Among the Young and Privileged in North Korea

Chicago Tribune: Review: 'Without You There Is No Us' by Suki Kim

NBC News: Suki Kim Goes 'Undercover' to Tell Stories from North Korea



6:30 pm Registration and light bites
7:15 pm Program


About Suki Kim

Suki Kim was born in Seoul and moved to the United States at the age of 13. She is the author of the award-winning novel The Interpreter and the recipient of a Guggenheim, a Fulbright, and an Open Society fellowship. She has been traveling to North Korea as a journalist since 2002, writing essays and articles for The New York Times, Harper's and The New York Review of Books.


ExxonMobil is the presenting sponsor of Business & Policy at Asia Society Texas Center, with lead support from United Airlines. Generous funding also provided by the Friends of Business & Policy at Asia Society Texas Center, a premier group of individuals and organizations committed to bringing the best in public programming.

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Event Details

Wed 25 Mar 2015
7:15 PM

1370 Southmore Blvd Houston, TX 77004 713.496.9901

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$10 Members, $15 Nonmembers. All sales final. Tickets Available March 3, 2015.
Add to Calendar 20150326T001500 20150326T001500 UTC Asia Society: Young Professionals: Author Suki Kim's "Without You, There Is No Us" 1370 Southmore Blvd Houston, TX 77004 713.496.9901
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