The Accusation, by Bandi

The Accusation: Forbidden Stories from Inside North Korea, by Bandi

The Accusation: Forbidden Stories from Inside North Korea, by Bandi

From The Accusation:

Myeong-chol longed to let himself sob out loud, to stamp the ground or shake his fist at the sky. But, depending on the circumstances, he knew that even crying could be construed as an act of rebellion, for which, in this country, there was only one outcome—a swift and ruthless death. And so it was the law of the land to smile even when you were racked with pain, to swallow down whatever burned your throat.

More short stories, and this time, short stories in translation—translated works are also on this year's list of Reading Goals—but I think I'd have picked this one up regardless. These stories were secretly written by a North Korean man over the course of years, and then smuggled out of the country in a copy of The Selected Works of Kim Il-sung—according to the Afterword and the Publisher's Note, he's still living there with his family.

Readers of dystopian fiction are going to find that the world described in these stories is uncomfortably familiar—they made me want to revisit Kafka and Douglas Adams. (Kafka is an obvious jump, I think, while Douglas Adams might seem like an odd connection... but Bandi's stories aren't without humor—some of them are bitingly funny—and the endless bureaucracy is very Adams-y as well.) 

Sideways connection: I suspect that my current Reading Binge might be slowed by a return to k-dramas, what with this list from Drama Fever: 10 Fascinating South Korean dramas and movies about North Korea