Skip to content

Keywords

Articles tagged "North Korea"

The Sea Girl & the Prince

Image description

What! Who could this strange man be?


Introduction

Two days ago, I stood at the DMZ with one of the authors in this issue, Jang Jin-sung. We looked across toward North Korea together from a guardpost on the South Korean side. Only a barbed wire fence below separated him from home. A flock of birds flew over us in an arrow formation, pointing north; but neither he, nor those he loves on the other side, can cross that border. North Korea is enclosed by borders. In material terms, North Korea is a large holding camp, as most Koreans living...

I Want to Call Her Mother Again

My mother’s last words to us as we stood in the middle of the empty potato field, her voice carrying above the razor-sharp wind that seemed to carve away at our flesh, still ring in my ears. “You’re on your own now. I don’t have the strength to go any farther with you two.” Despite the howling wind that ripped and tore at my body, I felt no pain. Even when my frostbitten toes began to rot and ooze with pus, it did not hurt. Nothing could have hurt more than...

The Poet Who Asked for Forgiveness

At its essence, the purpose of North Korean literature is to praise the Korean Workers’ Party. While South Korean poetry deals with topics such as love or life, North Korean poetry refers only to Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il, and Kim Jong-un, constantly reinventing itself as a mechanism of hymnal thought-control. In North Korea, whatever literary genius poets may possess, ignoring Party ideology in their work is a certain path to being mentally or physically broken by the state. This...

Pillow

Both the seller And the buyer Have nothing to offer but themselves In Pyongyang’s marketplace The filters of cigarette butts Provided cotton for this blanket on display “Face-wash for sale!” The ladies shout And clutch at passers by With nothing to offer but a bowl of water For one face-wash The traders sit here To sell their poverty The reasons for their poverty Are on display In every street In every alley On the dark posters Of murderous intent:...

The Arduous March

We stayed in the mountain village up until we left the North. Before that, when we had been living in the farming village, we couldn’t afford to visit our relatives in China. But after a few years in our new location, we started applying for temporary passports so we could travel back and forth across the border. With both my father and mother making trips to China, our family seemed to be among the better off in the village. My father, who traveled frequently to procure materials...

A Rice Story

1 As harvest season begins, the field slowly reveals its bare body. The thousand-year-old promise is that you reap what you sow. The land of promise stretches out behind the footprints of man. Winds blow. Snow falls. Holding the aching cold of ice in its breast, it passes the long tunnel of summer, spewing pain and nourishment. Then, in silence, it offers up teardrops of rice.  2 Here in Seoul, there are people who make a fuss about saving rice from death. I don’t...

A Blackened Land

So many miracles have happened to me in the last few months. I left behind my beloved homeland where I was born and raised and made my way through hell, just under the nose of the grim reaper. Today, I enter through the gates of heaven. The Republic of Korea! This is heaven. When the gates of this paradise open wide—a heaven once glimpsed only in fairy tales—that beautiful world I so ardently longed for will spread out before me. I will no longer be forced to struggle against...

After the Gunshot

Dark clouds were scattered low and despondent in the sky, loitering above the creeping flow of the river. As it always had, the Aprok River echoed through the deep ravine. The water was rising after a sudden, unseasonable squall, and seemed massive under the gleaming moon. A loud gunshot sounded not far away. At the noise, a night bird dozing in the leaves of a willow tree fluttered its wings and shot, startled, into the sky. At the same time, a young man dressed in black...

On North Korea: Leaders Great and Dear, and Literature

The opacity that his obituaries attribute to Kim Jong-il extends to North Korean literary culture. WWB has published a fair amount of writing from the country, starting with our second issue in September 2003, Writing from North Korea, and continuing with our anthology Literature from the "Axis of Evil": Writing from Iran, Iraq, North Korea, and other "Enemy Nations" and the more recent comics translated and contextualized by Heinz Insu Fenkl. Given our mission of promoting global...

The Secret of Frequency A: An Incredible Disaster, part three

Image description

Use the Frequency A generator to extract all the secrets from inside his head. Then quietly kill him.


The Secret of Frequency A: An Incredible Disaster, part two

Image description

If they find out he's doing research for us, we're doomed!


Blizzard in the Jungle

Image description


from Great General Mighty Wing

Image description


An Interview with Hayun Jung

How easy was it for you, living in Seoul, to find work for the North Korea section of Literature from the "Axis of Evil" ? Because there are very few North Korean publications available to the outside world, and all the more so in South Korea, the only place I could gain access to North Korean literature in Seoul was the library at the Ministry of Reunification, where all periodicals from the North was available, including Choson Munhak, the official publication from NK's official...

from He’s Alive

In this 1995 story, Bun-nyo is an elderly superintendent at a reservoir in the countryside. She devotes much of her time and effort to taking care of a flourishing flower garden that she has planted in honor of the Great Leader Kim Il Sung, who visited the reservoir once in her younger days. The story begins as she hears the devastating news of Kim's death. "Grandma, Grandma, get up." Bun-nyo heard voices, choking with tears, and felt small, desperate hands shaking her shoulders....

from Hopes for Good Fortune

The narrator, a manager at a factory in the city, is sent on an urgent business trip to his wife's hometown. As the hapless narrator sets out on his journey, his wife pressures him to visit his in-laws while he is there, to take care of various family matters including playing matchmaker to her younger sister. *** It makes me shudder just to look back on that day's journey. I had been walking for about half an hour when the fickle mountainside weather suddenly brought on rain....

from Friends on the Road

This story, written in 1960, is narrated by a middle-aged party committee chairman in the countryside who encounters a young woman on the train, on his way back from an important regional meeting. The narrator is quite taken by the maiden's vivacity and youthful beauty, and becomes interested in the tin pail that she has carried aboard the train, full of baby carp that she is transporting to her fish farm. The following excerpt begins right after the young woman, who got off the train...

Second Encounter

This is a story about something that took place over ten years ago, during the 13th World Youth Festival. It is now Juche Year 88 (1999).1 Outside our window slogans on the street, visible everywhere, bear witness to the hardships we've suffered over the last ten years and the upheavals of today: "Let's make this year shine with a great transformation in building a strong and prosperous country!" "Let's continue the arduous march vigorously onward to paradise!" But why am I...

How the Other Half Lives

After spending seven years in the U.S., I recently moved back to Seoul, the capitalist capital in the southern half of my divided country. When I arrived, both sides were preparing for the fiftieth anniversary of the armistice that ended the Korean War on July 27, 1953. People in the South barely took notice of the silver-haired U.S. veterans who had returned to marvel at sleek skyscrapers and cell phones in everyone's hands, focusing their attention instead to which politicians were...

Encountering North Korean Fiction: The Origins of the Future

The new year is dawning. The thought that we are entering the last year of the current century arouses a different feeling within me than usual. My heart is overwhelmed with emotion and my thoughts come ever more frequently. Not many years ago the twenty-first century seemed as remote as the ends of space... but now we have reached its cusp. —Ri Chun-gil † Despite having its own indigenous system for dates based on the birth of Kim Il Sung, as North Korea approached the new...

Like what you read? Help WWB bring you the best new writing from around the world.