Written by Bandi
Translated by Deborah Smith
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.
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.
DEBORAH SMITH is a British translator of Korean fiction. She translated The Vegetarian by Korean author Han Kang, for which she and the author were co-winners of the Man Booker International Prize in 2016. After graduating from the University of Cambridge, Smith began learning Korean in 2010. She founded Tilted Axis Press, a non-profit publishing house focusing on contemporary fiction specifically from Asia. She is currently a research fellow at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.