To research her book Without You, There Is No Us, Suki Kim worked undercover as an ESL teacher in North Korea. Kim was reluctant to call the work a memoir, believing that to do so “trivialized” her investigative reporting. The result was a backlash from critics, who called her undercover methods “dishonest.” At The New Republic, Kim responds to her critics:
Here I am telling my story to you, the reader, essentially to beg for acknowledgment: I am an investigative journalist, please take me seriously. I had been excluded from the insular world of journalism; perhaps, in the end, my anger is a reaction to that exclusion. As a woman of color entrenched in a profession still dominated by white men, I have been forced to use my writing not to explore topics of my own choosing, or to investigate the world’s complexities, but as a means to legitimize myself.
Read our own conversation with Kim about her experiences in North Korea here.