The Accusation: Forbidden Stories From Inside North Korea Summary & Study Guide

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The Accusation: Forbidden Stories From Inside North Korea Summary & Study Guide Description

The Accusation: Forbidden Stories From Inside North Korea Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on The Accusation: Forbidden Stories From Inside North Korea by Bandi.

The following version of this book was used to create this study guide: Bandi. The Accusation: Forbidden Stories from Inside North Korea. Grove Press, 2017.

The Accusation consists of seven short stories. In the first story, “Record of a Defection,” Lee Il-cheol and his wife Nam Myung-ok face domestic difficulties because of Il-cheol's status in the Communist Party. Il-cheol's father was executed for treason, and this has left a stain on his descendants. When Myung-ok sees that their nephew, Min-hyuk, is mistreated at school because of his family, she decides to try to intervene on her husband's behalf with a local Party official. The official uses his position to make a sexual advance at Myung-ok. Unable to withstand further degradation, Il-cheol and his family flee the country in a canoe.

In the second story, “City of Specters,” Han Gyeong-hee has told her young son that the portrait of Karl Marx in the center of town at Kim Il-sung Square is a demon that will punish him if he misbehaves. He consequently became terrified of the portrait, and Gyeong-hee is forced to hang heavy curtains on their windows at home to block out the sight. There is a national holiday celebration approaching, and a Party official comes to warn Gyeong-hee that her curtains are not regulation. All windows near the square must look the same for the upcoming events. When Gyeong-hee explains about her son's fears, the family is brought before a disciplinary board for “Neglecting to educate their son in the proper revolutionary principles” and subsequently exiled (57).

In “Life of a Swift Steed,” Jeon Yeong-il receives a call from a Party official about his family friend, Seol Yong-su. Yong-su had brandished an axe at the military police who came to trim a branch from his tree. He had planted that tree the day he joined the Party, so it was symbolic to him. When Yeong-il arrives to talk with Yong-su, he finds the latter demoralized and disillusioned with the Party for failing to deliver on its promise of plentiful food and an improved society. The next day, Yong-su is dead. His death is declared a heart attack, but suicide is implied. He had cut down the tree during the night.

“So Near, Yet So Far” revolves around a man named Myeong-chol's attempt to visit his ailing mother in his hometown. Transportation has been restricted due to Kim Il-sung being in the area, and Myeong-chol has not been permitted to make the journey. He goes anyway, without the proper documents. He is caught on the very border of his mother's town and arrested, sent to a forced labor camp for three weeks. He returns home just in time to receive a telegram stating that his mother has died.

In “Pandemonium,” a woman named Mrs. Oh recounts a similar experience of trying to travel with her husband and their granddaughter. When they were detained in a train station for many days, Mrs. Oh decided to proceed on foot alone, only to encounter Kim Il-sung's motorcade. The leader invited her to ride with his entourage to her destination. While she traveled safely by car, her husband and granddaughter were badly injured in a stampede at the train station, and she feels guilty. Her experience with the motorcade is broadcast as a human interest story on the radio, where she is forced to describe what an honor it was to have been offered such a ride. She feels complicit in the state's lies and propaganda.

“On Stage” is the story of Hong Yeong-pyo's disillusionment with the state. Yeong-pyo, a member of the secret service, is informed that his son, Kyeong-hun, has been seen in the company of the daughter of a political prisoner. Meanwhile, Kim Il-sung has recently died and there are mourning altars all over the city for people to visit and express their grief. The altars are monitored and lists are kept as to who visits and how frequently. Yeong-pyo and Kyeong-hun argue about this government surveillance and the state's forcing people to feel a certain way, or pretend to, like they are actors on a stage. This argument lingers in Yeong-pyo's head and he realizes his son is right. Unable to bear the fact that his life is a sham and he works for an oppressive regime, he kills himself.

In the final story, “The Red Mushroom,” a journalist named Hoe Yunmo is approached by a friend asking for help for his uncle Ko Inshik, who has just been arrested for dereliction of duty. Yunmo knows Ko Inshik and he flashes back to their earlier meetings. Inshik had been out of favor with the Party when he was put in charge of a new soybean cultivation site. The site quickly flourished, solving a scarcity problem for the government, and Inshik hoped to get his former position as an engineer restored to him. Unfortunately, after a year, the site was flooded. The government, seeking a scapegoat for the halting of production due to the rain, arrested Inshik and charged him with negligence, bringing the story back to the present chain of events. At his trial, Inshik is given no attorney and, when asked to speak in his own defense, begins babbling incoherently about mushrooms (which serve as a symbol of the Communist Party in the story). The ordeal has caused him to lose his mind. He is taken away amid the cries of his children, and Yunmo renounces communism and the Party's oppression.

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