The Accusation

The Accusation

Book - 2017
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In 1989, a North Korean dissident writer, known to us only by the pseudonym Bandi, began to write a series of stories about life under Kim Il-sung's totalitarian regime. Smuggled out of North Korea and set for publication around the world in 2017, The Accusation provides a unique and shocking window into this most secretive of countries.

Bandi's profound, deeply moving, vividly characterized stories tell of ordinary men and women facing the terrible absurdity of daily life in North Korea: a factory supervisor caught between loyalty to an old friend and loyalty to the Party; a woman struggling to feed her husband through the great famine; the staunch Party man whose actor son reveals to him the theatre that is their reality; the mother raising her child in a world where the all-pervasive propaganda is the very stuff of childhood nightmare.

The Accusation is a heartbreaking portrayal of the realities of life in North Korea. It is also a reminder that humanity can sustain hope even in the most desperate of circumstances -- and that the courage of free thought has a power far beyond those who seek to suppress it.

Publisher: [Toronto] : House of Anansi Press Inc., 2017.
ISBN: 9781487002718
Branch Call Number: FIC Bandi
Characteristics: 246 pages ; 21 cm
Additional Contributors: Smith, Deborah 1987-- Translator
Language Note: Translated from the Korean.


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Jul 03, 2017

This is not an easy book to read and understand. The the stories are filled with minutiae of daily life in a manner that I have read before in books by people who succeeded in escaping from North Korea. I don't claim to be an expert by any means, but I think it is a literary style that we in the West are not accustomed to. That, combined with our own (or my own, anyway) unfamiliarity with daily life in Pyungyang makes for a bit of a challenge in comprehension. I know enough to understand the almost constant preoccupation on Communist Party membership -- getting it, or maintaining it. I know that a slip-up, even if it's only perceived, in behavior about things we would find trivial (not looking sad enough when Kim Jong-Il died, for example) can affect a person's level of membership. A negative report in such behavior, or at work, or anywhere at all affects not only the person being judged but also that person's whole family. It's a country filled with desperate people who do not dare show that they are desperate.
The stories are worth reading, but I found them slow-going. And the pathos of the lives of the people depicted lingers in the reader's mind.

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