Written by Bandi
Translated by Deborah Smith
Publication Date March 04, 2017
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.
"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
"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
"This isn't an easy book to read, but it's compelling and difficult and oh so necessary." Loan Stars
"These seven illuminating stories ... reveal desperate lives enduring terrifying day-to-day challenges" Booklist
"Bandi’s collection is not only important for the fact that it is the first collection of stories to come from someone still living in North Korea, it is also of great import because these are human stories and struggles." The Mind Reels
"Fugitive fiction—literally—from inside North Korea, devastatingly critical of the Kim dynasty and its workers’ paradise." Kirkus Reviews
"Like its great literary predecessor One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, The Accusation is a powerful work that seems destined to serve as the go-to example, and indictment, of life in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea." The National Post
"The Accusation is an angry book, composed in “pure indignation,” but it shines a necessary light on what remains one of the darkest places on Earth." The Toronto Star
"Searing fiction by an anonymous dissident . . . A fierce indictment of life in the totalitarian North." The New York Times
"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, New York Times bestselling author of Please Look After Mom