• My Holiday in North Korea

  • The Funniest/Worst Place on Earth
  • By: Wendy E. Simmons
  • Narrated by: Jeena Yi
  • Length: 4 hrs and 38 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (450 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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, 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.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2015 Wendy E. Simmons, Vendeloo, Inc. (P)2016 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about My Holiday in North Korea

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Hilarious Yet Real

What made the experience of listening to My Holiday in North Korea the most enjoyable?

Simultaneously hilarious and sad. You can't help but laugh out loud at the paradoxical nature of the country and it was interesting to see things from the perspective of a curious westerner (unlike most books about North Korea which are written by or about DPRK defectors). With her first world perspective being so similar to my own it felt as if I was actually there with her, which made it even more hilarious because her reactions and responses were so similar to my own as I read. I also like the way she researched the nonsense they told her and matter-of-factly dropped side notes of the actual truths throughout the book.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Fresh handler was my favorite character. Her innocence in comparison to other characters such as older handler was refreshing. She wasn't completely consumed by the propaganda and seemed genuinely interested in the outside world

What does Jeena Yi bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Personality. She gave emotion to each line of the book allowing me to feel the emotions from sarcasm to confusion of Ms. Simmons as she told her story

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I laughed a lot. But underneath each laugh was a somber reality that is North Korea

Any additional comments?

Unfortunately, despite her hilariously entertaining accounts of her experience, it is impossible to avoid coming back to the reality that this is life for North Koreans and they don't have other options. They are prisoners in their own homes and what we are allowed to see and laugh about in this book is the "good", choreographed side of the country, the rest is far worse and the strong desire to want to help them will inevitably sneak up on you at the end of every page. Nevertheless, she does a great job of depicting the Kim regime's big bad propaganda machine.

11 people found this helpful

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facinating look at North Korea

this book was an excellent inside look at North Korrea. It is much worse than I ever thought it was. It left me sad for the people who know no other way of life.

6 people found this helpful

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Good

The book is clearly aimed at people who haven't read a ton about North Korea, but even if you have (and I have) it's still really enjoyable. The book basically covers the "vacation" of the author into North Korea and how it's truly unlike any other place on earth. The author herself comes off as an aging party girl, someone who thinks extremely highly of themselves and feels the need to get into everyone else's business because they need to make an impact on these peoples lives - BUT that's not a terrible thing since it's much more interesting to read about someone like that then someone who is just a boring dullard.

Anyways back to the book. It covers the authors vacation and how insane the state of North Korea is, it's written in a very "hey I'm getting old but I'm still edgy" kind of way - again not a negative but that's what I heard over and over again in my head as I listened. There are many amusing situations in the book and overall there is a good story even if the author is a bit full of it when talking about herself.

If you've read a lot of books about North Korea and want something different this will do the trick. It's very enjoyable, can be amusing and moves at a quick pace, it gets right into the meat of the book, no background on the author or anything - which again is a huge plus since North Korea is the star of this book.

Also this is an excellent intro book to North Korea for someone that doesn't actually care in the least about North Korea, or history, or biographies, etc - it's very readable and as I said moves quickly.

The reader does a great job with the content, giving it a youthful spirit.

5 people found this helpful

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Alice parts roll my eyes.

Any additional comments?

I liked the overall story, as I love reading all stories from NK. I did NOT like the Alice quotes at all. I rolled my eyes every time they came up. The quotes were just interruption, breaking the pace of the story that I liked to hear. Yes they are short, but they take me out of it.

4 people found this helpful

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So Entertaining!

This is an insightful, funny book about North Korea. The author's personality shines through and really adds to the story. I'm glad that I listened rather than read the book because the narrator's spot on cadence as well as her pronunciation of Korean phrases makes listening very entertaining!

3 people found this helpful

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A flippant tourist account

I’m no expert on North Korea & I’ve never been there. This is, in fact, why I want to learn about it. This book is utterly disappointing. & has a mean spirited mocking. Yes, I’m sure there are things that would strike me funny if I was there, as they do anywhere I travel. However, wherever I go I’m there to learn, to try to understand, to connect, to gain insights & try on other perspectives. This book isn’t humorous though, it’s shallow & has a condescending mocking tone to it.
A western travelers’ perspective is interesting if you’re planning to travel there as a tourist, or perhaps if you’ve been. But if you want to learn about a place, a culture, listen to the people who have or do live there. Not tourists simply pointing out, “Hey, look they do things differently! How weird!”
North Koreans suffer immense poverty & isolation. They shouldn’t be mocked. And just because there are problems under a dictatorship, doesn’t mean the people don’t have culture or perspectives of their own to share. Do better, westerners. Do better.

2 people found this helpful

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Please write more👍👏🏻

This audio book was great. I would definitely enjoy listening more of the author's experiences she has had while traveling around the world.

Janet Angell

2 people found this helpful

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Fabulous!

This book would be tragic were it not so funny! The writing and performance are top notch!

2 people found this helpful

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Loved it

Ms. Simmons told her story of unbelievable events and propaganda in a way kept me laughing but most of all, made them believable. I have recommended this several time. I do wish there were fewer "f*#%" used but it's her story and she was telling it as she wanted.

2 people found this helpful

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Took a bit of getting used to

I had an issue at first identifying where the author was coming from exactly, as she gives her background and intention much later in the book. Moreover, her writing style can be rather ... flippant (or "sassy"). That having been said, she's a terrific travel writer, capturing moments perfectly, especially impressive as she took as few notes as possible during her stay in case they fell into the wrong hands. So, start out with the idea that she really wants to meet "real" North Koreans and be part of their lives as she has in so many other places; as one should realize in advance, this is Not Easy in North Korea, though she meets with about as much success as is realistically possible.

Usually, I'd say that if one isn't getting into a book after a while, it likely won't improve a lot. This story proves an exception. The saddest moment is her observation of a scene, "That looks live slave labor" with the handler agreeing via non-verbal communication; the funniest had to do with being ... interrupted doing a complicated yoga pose in her room, scantily dressed.

Narration solidly in the very good - excellent range.

4 people found this helpful

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  • davie
  • 05-24-16

Inextricably gripping

LOVE LOVE LOVE this book, the story, the narration, the ensuing emotions. Short, sweet, sad, hopeful, confusing, enlightening, terrifying, hilarious.... I could go on.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Andy
  • 12-20-21

worst book I have ever heard

It is seldom that I dislike a book - and an author - as intensely as I found myself when reading this book. If Ms Simmons is typical of American tourists in North Korea (and I assume and hope she is not) then it cannot be doing much for diplomacy between the two nations. The whole book is full of snide comments and feelings of superiority of her culture over theirs. She had very little nice to say about anyone - unless they were pretty - she even felt the need to belittle fellow tourists - in this case British teachers. Although to be honest all her "humorous" and snide comments actually appear to have happened in her head rather than actually say them out loud - gosh how brave of you (not). And to be honest I wouldn't feel quite so superior in intellect as the North Koreans if I were you Ms Simmons - the earth does not go around the sun in 1 day... It happens to take a whole year!
If this is the quality of her travel writing then I will steer well clear of it. Bring back Bill Bryson - someone who does not let his own ego get in the way of an excellent travelogue.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Max Reach
  • 09-16-21

Naive

For someone who is widely traveled I couldn’t help thinking how poorly prepared and naive the author was. I didn’t find the book at all funny and was positively quite dangerous in the way that the author puts forward a suggestion regarding one of her guides possibly wanting to escape because she was asking her about hard and soft currencies…..Really!!??


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  • Neil402003
  • 01-18-18

Not bad but gets a bit boring.

The thing that keeps springing to mind when listening to this audiobook is :
You must of known what to expect going to North Korea on a holiday!.The author seems to just hate her experience there.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Rebecca Foster
  • 02-09-18

Jeena Yi’s narration is excellent

A great, gripping story of a travellers experience. I was enlightened by Wendy’s take on her adventure. Well worth listening to as it’s light, informative with shades of darkness. I could listen to Jeena’s voice all day... like eating galaxy chocolate at the same time.... wonderful

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  • Pootle_around
  • 06-10-17

Soooooo funny

I only write reviews if I find a book a) really really bad or b) really really good. Anything average isn't worth my efforts. This book which is a very short memoir on an American's 10 day holiday/vacation to North Korea is the only book that has ever made me laugh out loud. I love the author's view on the world and she tells some really funny anecdotes. I suspect I'll read this one again once I've finished my next book. it's too good not to enjoy for a second time.

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  • ShaneRooney
  • 02-20-17

An alternative look at NoKo

Thinking of payment a visit to North Korea? This is great reading for a tourist.

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  • Jon
  • 12-22-17

Not very interesting

I returned this book. Was bored with hearing repeated Alice in Wonderland quotes early on.

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  • Jackson Dean
  • 05-15-16

excellent

this was really good. not what i expected. narrator was brilliant. I do and don't want to visit NoKo now.