The Accusation: Forbidden Stories from Inside North Korea

The Accusation: Forbidden Stories from Inside North Korea


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The Accusation is a deeply moving and eye-opening work of fiction that paints a powerful portrait of life under the North Korean regime. Set during the period of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il's leadership, the seven stories that make up The Accusation give voice to people living under this most bizarre and horrifying of dictatorships. The characters of these compelling stories come from a wide variety of backgrounds, from a young mother living among the elite in Pyongyang whose son misbehaves during a political rally, to a former Communist war hero who is deeply disillusioned with the intrusion of the Party into everything he holds dear, to a husband and father who is denied a travel permit and sneaks onto a train in order to visit his critically ill mother. Written with deep emotion and writing talent, The Accusation is a vivid depiction of life in a closed-off one-party state, and also a hopeful testament to the humanity and rich internal life that persists even in such inhumane conditions.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802127518
Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date: 01/16/2018
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 600,442
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Bandi, which means "firefly" in Korean, is a pseudonym for a writer who is still living in his homeland of North Korea, and who wrote these stories in secret. The Accusation is his only published book to date.

An AudioFile Earphones Award winner, David Shih narrated the History Channel documentary China's First Emperor and the Discovery Networks series Royal Inquest. His many television and film credits include roles in The Path, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, All My Children, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and Saving Face.

Read an Excerpt

It was getting on for evening the previous Saturday when it first happened. A citizens' rally was taking place in Kim Il-Sung Square, with the aim of encouraging people to be ever more energetic in preparing for the celebrations. Everyone was pushed for time, so the rally had been organised at an hour when most workers would be heading home for the day. Myeong-shik had had a cold, and Gyeong-hee, reluctant to leave him in that state, couldn't very well absent herself from the rally, so in the end she'd strapped him to her back and gone into the square. Myeong-shik was prone to colds, seemingly a product of his weak constitution, but this was something different — his tiny body burning hot against her back told Gyeong-hee that this fever wasn't to be dismissed as a mere sniffle. Her group was at the head of the square's far-left column, directly beneath the glowering gaze of Karl Marx. In the haze of dusk, before the square's electric lighting was switched on, that reddish-black face with its great swathe of hair would have sent shivers down the spine of even the most stolid Party cadre. Perhaps it was that which accounted for Gyeong-hee's unwonted recollection of a line from the first passage of The Communist Manifesto , which she'd read at some point during college.

"A spectre is haunting Europe — the spectre of Communism."

Had Marx inadvertently been writing his autobiography" The phrase was a mysteriously fitting description of how his portrait appeared just then: closer in form to some spectral presence than an actual human being, plucked from some ghastly legend.

Table of Contents

In Place of a Preface vii

Record of a Defection 1

City of Specters 35

Life of a Swift Steed 61

So Near, Yet So Far 89

Pandemonium 121

On Stage 151

The Red Mushroom 181

Afterword: How The Accusation Came Out of North Korea 229

A Note From Do Hee-yun 243

In Place of Acknowledgments 247

Publisher's Note 248

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The Accusation: Forbidden Stories from Inside North Korea 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
AndrewReadsBooks More than 1 year ago
What to say about "The Accusation"? It's something you simply need to read. The collection of seven short stories reflects the work of a dissident author who currently lives within North Korea. It captures and satirizes the painful realities of living under the communist dictatorship, and artfully captures the struggles of individuals and families trying to survive. The organization of the stories breaks from the chronology in which they were written, but captures the growing sense of hopelessness and powerlessness that drives the author. In the early stories there is a sense of paranoia, such that the reader may question whether the characters are behaving reasonably (even given a working knowledge of modern North Korea), but as the depths of the State's irrationality are explored the reader must wonder why anyone would persist in staying. The translation is clear and easy to follow. Cultural structures which may not be immediately familiar to western readers, such as identifying adults as "so-and-so's father" or "uncle of so-and-so" and the bowibu are well explained, as are cultural practices like finding a boar's bladder to aid women after birth. The insidious party organization, and it's maintenance through mutual distrust is well communicated. In some stories, we alternate between multiple timelines. While this is important for narrative reasons, the transitions themselves aren't always clear, and can lead to some confusion. Similarly, timelines within the stories are sometimes fuzzy. However, these issues are not sufficient to reduce the impact of the stories. In short, I recommend this.
Meowff More than 1 year ago
All of the short stories within this book are both disturbing and insightful. They manage to be captivating in a literary sense, despite being true accounts. For those interested in the treatment of the people in NK, it is a must read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hard to imagine the plight of a whole country.