I never got around to reviewing The Joy Brigade (an ARC from Netgalley), but here is part of the book description from Amazon:
"Seoul, early 1970s: US Army Sergeant George Sueño is on a mission of extreme importance to the South Korean government, as well as the US Army. Kim Il-Sung has vowed to reunite North and South Korea into one country before he hands control of the government over to his son, which means North Korea is planning to cross the DMZ and overpower the American-allied South Korean government. Sueño's mission is to prevent this by sneaking into North Korea and obtaining an ancient map detailing the network of secret tunnels that run underneath the DMZ. To do so, he will have to go undercover and infiltrate the North Korean Communist inner sanctum."
Although I guess I'd give the book 3 out of 5 stars, the novel spurred me to further research on North Korea and the Joy Brigade.
From Wikipedia: "The Gippeumjo (translated variously as Pleasure Group, Pleasure Groups, Pleasure Squad, Pleasure Brigade, Joy Brigade, or Joy Division) is a collection of groups of approximately 2,000 women and girls between the ages of 13 and 40 (although most are believed to be between 18 and 25), which are maintained by the head of state of North Korea for the purpose of providing pleasure and entertainment for high-ranking Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) officials and their families, as well as occasionally also distinguished guests."
And from Yahoo-Answers: "In North Korea there is a thing they call the "Joy Brigades." President and dictator Kim Jung Il keeps a stable of the country's prettiest girls as young as Grade nine. Their purpose is to please him, the Dear Leader, as well as to serve as sex slaves for his top beureaucrats and military elite. Sometimes they are given to 'friends' as party favours."
Disturbing, to say the least.
And more facts of which I was ignorant:
North Korea is about the size of one U.S. State, yet has the 4th largest army in the world.
"North Korea is the most militarized country in the world today, having the fourth largest army in the world, at about 1,106,000 armed personnel, with about 20% of men ages 17–54 in the regular armed forces. Military service of up to 10 years is mandatory for most fit people. It also has a reserve force comprising 7,700,000 personnel. It operates an enormous network of military facilities scattered around the country, a large weapons production basis, a dense air defense system, the third largest chemical weapons stockpile in the world, and includes the world's largest Special Forces contingent (numbering 180,000 men). While the aging equipment, deriving from the economic plight of the country, is seen as major defect of the North Korean military capability, it is nevertheless regarded as a significant threat due to its size and proximity to major civilian areas." (from Wikipedia)