Seeking liberation

Book review of “The Accusation” by Bandi

“The Accusation” by Bandi contains non-fiction, first-hand encounters from North Korean survivors of the Communist regime. Published anonymously after sneaking the tales of different families out to safety in South Korea, Bandi is a Korean word for “firefly,” a pseudonym chosen by the author who still resides in North Korea. Fearing for his personal safety, “The Accusation” is his only book published to date. 

The book shows the devastating horrors and terrors individuals faced under the rule of Kim Jong-Il. Comprising different short stories, the reader is immersed into the world hidden from the media and outside eyes. 

One particular recount shows how a gentleman traveled to his village, hiding on different train cars after his visit to his dying mother was rejected by the government and ended up spending days in a labor camp paying off his rebellious defiance, resulting in the loss of a final chance to say goodbye. 

Freedom of movement in North Korea ceased to exist back then and today. 

Bandi includes the private diary of one family member. Seeing the terroristic treatment of her husband and his family members after their father was unable to grow crops, the father was executed for being a “traitor” and the remaining family members labelled as a traitor’s offspring, decided to discreetly sneak birth control pills to prevent bringing an innocent child into a future of despair. 

Community members gossiped of the woman’s cooking of two breakfasts in the morning, only for her husband to come home early, take her by surprise and exclaim she was making food for street dogs. In reality, she would eat the scraps of their rationed food to provide a decent meal for her husband. Upon finding the birth control pills and demanding answers for an unknown and untrue affair, she reluctantly shares her journal with her husband. It’s upon the realization that life is unjust and will never improve under their current situation, they risk being killed and journey towards liberation in South Korea. 

A handful of other short stories reside in Bandi’s book. Hoping to provide insight to the environment of North Korean’s back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, “The Accusation” shines light on the privilege held in Western democracy. Terrifying, painful and heart-wrenching, these stories need to be heard and recognized. An emotional piece of literature provides readers a chance to experience the testaments of humanity and resilience under a past and present dictatorship. 

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