It is 2011 and all universities in North Korea have been shut down for an entire year, the students sent to construction fields—except for the 270 students at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST), a walled compound where Suki Kim has accepted a job teaching English. Life at PUST is lonely and claustrophobic. Suki’s has almost no contact with the outside world, letters are read by censors and she cannot phone. Over the next six months, she will teach her pupils English, but as the weeks pass, she learns how easily her students lie in their obedience to the regime.
And when Kim Jong-Il dies, and the boys she has come to love appear devastated, she wonders whether the gap between her world and theirs can ever be bridged.