Rachel Fuller: Author offers a look inside North Korea

Rachel Fuller: Author offers a look inside North Korea


September is back-to-school season for many children and adults; it's a time of new beginnings and expanded horizons, a season during which new ideas seem like especially valuable currency.

Sensitive to this season, I recently found myself searching for a book that would expand my own horizons. While browsing shelves at the library, I found a book that fit the bill. It was "The Accusation: Forbidden Stories from Inside North Korea."

Published in English in 2017, the work is by an author with the pseudonym Bandi, or "firefly." The work, which was smuggled out of North Korea in 2013 as a manuscript, includes seven fictional short stories about North Korean citizens of diverse socioeconomic statuses who live in various areas of the country. In short, Bandi's work provides a glimpse of what it's like to live in North Korea.

The stories are intriguing, well-written and thought-provoking, and, given Bandi is a North Korean citizen who has not defected (he has a wife and children), I value his insight into a world that is largely inaccessible to me.

His stories, like all stories, relate the similarity of the human experience; at the same time, Bandi manages to illuminate how living in precarious circumstances can change one's perception, behavior and worldview.

The stories range from a boy traveling to see his dying mother to a young woman publicly grieving the death of the country's leader as culturally expected — even while her husband is serving a sentence in a camp for political prisoners.

Bandi has shared his work at no small risk to himself and his family, which shows how strongly he feels about the ideas contained therein. As such, it simply seemed right that I take a few minutes to read his work, consider the views he presents and consider the views that I, myself, may hold. I'm so glad I did.

If you, too, are interested in expanding your horizons during this back-to-school season, Bandi's "The Accusation: Forbidden Stories from Inside North Korea" is a good bet. I'm willing to venture that after reading Bandi's work, you will pause a bit longer and more deeply each time happenings in North Korea make the news.

Rachel Fuller is the Director of adult and youth services at The Urbana Free Library. She enjoys traveling, knitting, running and sampling all manner of coffees and teas.

Sections (1):Living
Topics (1):Books