The Accusation

The Accusation

Written by: Bandi
Translated by: Smith, Deborah

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Authored by an anonymous writer and smuggled out of North Korea, The Accusation is the first work of fiction to come out of the country and a moving portrayal of life under a totalitarian regime.

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 published around the world, 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.

Authored by an anonymous writer and smuggled out of North Korea, The Accusation is the first work of fiction to come out of the country and a moving portrayal of life under a totalitarian regime.

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 published around the world, 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.

Published By House of Anansi Press Inc — Mar 4, 2017
Specifications 256 pages | 8.25 in x 5.5 in
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Written By

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.

Written By

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.

Commended, A GLOBE AND MAIL TOP 100 BOOK, 2017

Commended, NATIONAL POST 99 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR, 2017

“This is an extraordinary tale of ordinary people in North Korea . . . A highly readable, nuanced, credible picture of a country where ordinary people go about their lives treading around the regime, and sometimes bumping into it.” —BBC World Service

“Searing fiction by an anonymous dissident . . . A fierce indictment of life in the totalitarian North.” —New York Times

“Smuggled out of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea 25 years after being written, this pseudonymous collection covers the final years of the rule of Kim Il-sung. Depicting everyday citizens trying to make the best of a bad situation, The Accusation gives a human face to the people living under a brutal regime.” —National Post

“These short works offer powerful insights into a world behind walls . . . In its scope and courage, The Accusation is an act of great love.” —Guardian

“Fugitive fiction ― literally ― from inside North Korea, devastatingly critical of the Kim dynasty and its workers’ paradise … There is a streak of satire in these stories, but mostly they are grimly realistic … Certainly the author has access to the broad sweep of North Korean society, from industrial workers and farmers to midlevel political functionaries … An important document of witness.” —Kirkus Reviews


“Magnificently humane and tender, The Accusation is a profound read that shines a spotlight on the ordinary people living in the darkest of lands. It is also a staggering indictment of the deceit and falsehood that is today’s North Korea. A mournful, deeply felt, and necessary read. It will change you.” —Irina Kovalyova, author of Specimen

“Bandi’s collection of short stories are well crafted parable-like portraits of people struggling to trust and yearning to create meaning as they navigate their way through the sterile, Kafkaesque landscape of 1990s North Korea. More stories like these may crumble the regime.” —Ins Choi, author of Kim’s Convenience

“All we can do is to read these 'accusations.' Only that will save the writer who wrote and sent them out into the world at the risk of his own life.” —Kyung-Sook Shin