After the collapse of the Soviet world, North Korea alone has continued on the rigid communist way, in spite of its economic consequences leading the state beyond ruin to famine. What are the reasons behind this peculiar choice of direction? Why did the leaders in Pyongyang pursue a policy abandoned not only by the Soviet Union, but also by China and Vietnam? The author of this book spent three years as head of the embassy of Sweden in Pyongyang. Until a few years ago, it was the only Western embassy in North Korea. His unique experiences are related with descriptions of day-to-day life and with analyses of economic, political and ideological conditions. A picture is drawn of a society and a political order that defy both human nature and common sense.