I’ve written a lot of books. Some were better than others. Some were more important than others.
The North Korean book was a complete surprise.
I’m glad I wrote it. Even now, I think it was a good use of my time.
However, it was an exhausting book to research, and a profound challenge to write. Korea’s history was far darker and more tangled than I’d expected. I don’t think I’ll work on another book with so much gut-wrenching tragedy… not unless I’m absolutely certain that it has a happy ending, anyway.
2015 update: Due to the dramatically changing political scene, my publisher & I decided it’s wiser to remove this book from circulation.
One of the turning points in my research was listening carefully to Kim Han-sol, the nephew of Kim Jong-un. Kim Han-sol has the necessary education and fresh outlook to take the best of his great-grandfather’s ideals and — with an eye to modern society — make the vision a reality. (Kim Han-sol is the great-grandson of Kim Il-sung, the first president of North Korea.)
The following videos are a two-part interview with Kim Han-sol from 2012. The woman interviewing him has some annoying moments, but if you focus on what Kim Han-sol is saying, I think you’ll be intrigued and impressed.
His thoughts are worth considering. That’s why I mentioned him in my recent book, as a visionary leader to follow Kim Jong-un.
North Korea is a country with challenges, but also tremendous personal assets in the optimism and work ethic of its people.
I’m sure I’ll continue following North Korea in the news, and thinking about these topics in light of what I learned during the past two months of research and writing.
Meanwhile, I’m not sure what’s next for me, as a writer. The books about the Pope were tremendous fun to research and write. That story is still unfolding, of course, but I think it’ll be months before Dace and I can add anything new and insightful to the discussion.
However, after the long hours required for the North Korea book, I’m ready for a few weeks off.