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The Accusation - Bandi

The Accusation - Bandi

Profile Books Ltd

Regular price €14,95 EUR
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Our take

The Accusation is a collection of short stories that was smuggled from North Korea into China and originally published in South Korea in 2013. Its English translation by Deborah Smith was published in 2017. The manuscript's origins are controversial as only the author's pen name is known (Bandi means "firefly" in Korean). However, the dialect used and the intimate depiction of life in North Korea suggest that the author is North Korean. Each of the seven stories in this collection shows people who have been stripped from basic freedoms and live in constant fear that a fatal accusation against them may be made at any time. A gripping read that offers a unique glance into the lives of people across different social classes and occupations who, at some point, realise that no matter what they do and how obedient they are to the state, it may and will crush them.

Publisher's description

The Accusation is a deeply moving and eye-opening piece of fiction that exposes the truth of the North Korean regime. Set during the period of Kim Jong-Il’s leadership, the seven stories that make up The Accusation throw light on different aspects of life in this most bizarre and horrifying of dictatorships.

One story, “Life of a Swift Seed,” tells the tale of a war hero and former ardent Communist who plants an elm tree in his back garden to commemorate one of his brothers-in-arms. A family friend who works at a nearby factory must decide whether he will intercede on this man’s behalf when the tree is to be cut down to make way for a new power line and the war hero is prepared to defend it with his life. In another story, “City of Specters,” a Pyongyang mother’s young son misbehaves during a party rally, crying out when he sees a portrait of Karl Marx, whom he thinks is a monster of Korean myth known as the Eobi. In one other story, a mother attempts to feed her husband during the worst years of North Korea’s famine, and in another, a woman in a perilous situation meets the Dear Leader himself.

As a whole, The Accusation is a vivid and frightening portrait of what it means to live in a completely closed-off society, and a heartbreaking yet hopeful portrayal of the humanity that persists even in such dire circumstances.

Praise and awards

“[The Accusation] might be the most dangerous book on the planet right now . . . An historic milestone . . . A powerful denunciation . . . Its very existence is still a hopeful symbol that change is inevitable, if not imminent.”—Vice

“The stories describe life under a locked-down totalitarian dictatorship in which everything is controlled by the central government, including writing and reading; in which society is riddled with spies who report on the most trivial of aberrations; and in which the non-elites are starved and overworked and lied to about the real state of affairs. This book emphasizes the value of an open society in which many voices can be heard—not just one authoritarian voice.”—Margaret Atwood, Literary Hub

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