In October 2006, only a few short months after John Everard, a former Pantech Fellow with Stanford’s Korean Studies Program, arrived in Pyongyang to serve as the British ambassador, North Korea conducted its first-ever nuclear test. Everard spent the next two-and-a-half years meeting with North Korean government officials and attending the official events so beloved by the North Korean regime. During this complicated period he provided crucial reports back to the British government on political developments.
He also traveled extensively throughout North Korea, witnessing scenes of daily life experienced by few foreigners: people shopping for food in Pyongyang’s informal street markets, urban residents taking time off to relax at the beach, and many other very human moments. Everard captured such snapshots of everyday life through dozens of photographs and detailed notes.
Only Beautiful, Please: A British Diplomat in North Korea, released in June from the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, recounts Everard’s experiences during his stay in North Korea. The book goes beyond official North Korea to unveil the human dimension of life in that hermetic nation. Everard recounts his impressions of the country and its people, his interactions with them, and his observations on their way of life. He provides a picture as well of the life of foreigners in this closed society, considers how the DPRK evolved to its current state, and discusses the failure of current approaches to tackle the challenges that it throws up. The book is illustrated with striking and never-before-seen photographs taken by Everard during his stay in North Korea.