Some time back I read about the challenge to read a book from every country in the world, and it was with that in mind that I started reading The Accusation: Forbidden stories from inside North Korea, by Bandi.
Bandi is the pseudonym for a North Korean official writer. It means “firefly” – a light that shines in the darkness. Between 1989 and 1995 Bandi secretively wrote stories criticising the state. As one will get from reading the seven stories in The Accusation, the very act of writing them is enough to have one killed. The stories were only smuggled out of North Korea in 2013, translated to English by Deborah Smith and now published.
The seven stories are remarkably similar in their analysis of how accidents of birth determine the fate of characters who are dissimilar in status, class and circumstance. I found the stories quite harrowing to read and needed a few days respite between each one. No one in North Korea is immune to the threat of being accused of antirevolutionary crimes. All the characters come to learn, despite brainwashing to the contrary, that the state of North Korea is evil.
It is a very sobering read for people used to the freedoms of western democracy, and it explains much of North Korea as is currently functions.
- Title: The Accusation
- Sub-title: Forbidden stories from inside North Korea
- Author: Bandi
- Publisher: Serpent’s Tail (Distributed by Jonathan Ball in South Africa)
- Year: 2017
- Recommended selling price R255
- ISBN: 978 1781258712