Last updated: 19 february, 2010 - 15:35 GMT

Real Lives in North Korea

Talking about life in North Korea: Barbara Demick with Mrs Song

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It is not easy to know what is really going on in secretive North Korea but one American journalist was determined to find out more.

When Barbara Demickwas posted to Seoul a few years ago by the Los Angeles Times she spoke to defectors who had fled their country in search of a better life.

Demick collected their stories of extreme poverty, starvation, and of neighbour spying on neighbour.

She met Mrs Song (pictured with Barbara, above) - a woman who was once impeccably loyal to the regime - and heard a haunting account of doomed love between Mi-ran and Jun-sang in the remote Northern city of Chongjin.

North Korea's leader Kim Jong-Il

North Korea's leader Kim Jong-Il

When Lucy Ash spoke to Barbara Demick she asked her all about the realities of everyday life in North Korea for the country's ordinary citizens.

North Korean children celebrate the birthday of leader Kim Jong-Il

North Korean children celebrate the birthday of leader Kim Jong-Il

Barbara Demick's book is called click Nothing To Envy - a title inspired by a North Korean children's song which boasts that people have nothing to envy of the rest of the world.

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