Guy Delisle’s travelogues have been a revelation – capturing his experiences working for an animation studio and required to travel overseas to supervise production at low cost centres which draw the in-between images between the key frames supplied from Paris.
Shenzhen: A Travelogue from China.
In the first book he travels to the Shenzhen in southern China which is closer to Hong Kong in terms of culture and economy that the rest of the giant state.
Inefficient animators. Unusual theme parks. Unfamiliar humour. Emergency dental treatment. Identikit hotel rooms. Public Transport.
Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea.
In his second translated book, Delisle is once again sent away to supervise production, this time in Pyongyang in North Korea.
Picked up at the airport by his guide, he is escorted to highest point in the city to admire the view – a 22m high bronze statue of the leader – before being taken to his hotel, built on an island. His initial reaction is:
North Korea is the world’s most isolated country. Foreigners trickle in. There’s no internet. There are no cafés. In fact, there’s no entertainment. It’s hard to even leave the hotel and meeting Koreans is next to impossible. Pyongyang is a city of power cuts and empty buildings.
One thing that strikes you after weeks of looking a the immaculate streets of Pyongyang is the complete absence of handicapped people.He challenges his guide about this anomaly and is told:
There are none … we’re a very homogeneous nation. All North Koreans are born strong, intelligent and healthy.Delisle adds:
And from the way he says it, I think he believes it.These first two books are now ten years old. Life in Shenzhen and Pyongyang will have advanced; though the recent Panorama report from North Korea suggested only marginal change.
I’ll now looking forward to tackling the two other graphic novels by Guy Delisle that have been translated into English, describing his a trips along with his wife (a Médecins Sans Frontières administrator) to Burma (Myanmar) and Jerusalem .