Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Accusation: Forbidden Stories from Inside North Korea” as Want to Read:
The Accusation: Forbidden Stories from Inside North Korea
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Accusation: Forbidden Stories from Inside North Korea

by
really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  4,511 ratings  ·  692 reviews
The Accusation is a deeply moving and eye-opening work of fiction that paints a powerful portrait of life under the North Korean regime. Set during the period of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il’s leadership, the seven stories that make up The Accusation give voice to people living under this most bizarre and horrifying of dictatorships. The characters of these compelling stori ...more
Hardcover, 247 pages
Published March 7th 2017 by Grove Press (first published May 2014)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Accusation, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Lysa Yes, it shows stories from a modern emprisoned world, we all need to know what is going on. Thumbs up for getting it accross the border and published.…moreYes, it shows stories from a modern emprisoned world, we all need to know what is going on. Thumbs up for getting it accross the border and published. You are so courageous.(less)
Marian I am not sure if he is paid any royalties, but according to this interview with Hee-Yun Do, Bandi knows the book has been published internationally: h…moreI am not sure if he is paid any royalties, but according to this interview with Hee-Yun Do, Bandi knows the book has been published internationally: https://publishingperspectives.com/20...(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
really liked it Average rating 4.00  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,511 ratings  ·  692 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of The Accusation: Forbidden Stories from Inside North Korea
Bill Kerwin
Mar 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing

In Why Orwell Matters (2005), Christopher Hitchens made the following prediction about North Korea: “...there will turn out to have been individual Koreans who always kept a scrap of culture alive.” The fulfillment of that prediction is this book, first published in 2017.

An afterward tells the story of how the manuscript escaped from the North, how it was smuggled out—due to the efforts of a female relative—sandwiched between the pages of The Selected Works of Kim il-Sung. Its author, Bandi (a p
...more
Taryn
Feb 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5 Stars. The Accusation is a collection of seven short stories about life in North Korea. The manuscript was smuggled out of the country. It's the first time a book critical of the North Korean government written by someone who still lives there has been published.

Bandi, Korean for firefly, is the pseudonym the author uses; he states that he's "fated to shine only in a world of darkness." The translation is by Deborah Smith, translator for Han Kang's Human Acts and The Vegetarian. Bandi wrote
...more
Diane S ☔
Mar 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lor
North Korea, a closed society, books and news have been filtering out in the last several years. In these seven stories, based on experiences and thoughts of the people as told to the author, we learn some of the harsh realities of living under this type of dictatorship, cut off from the rest of the world. They are as enlightening and harsh as one could imagine. The way the book made it out of North Korea, or that it even did, is amazing as is the way these stories are told. This information and ...more
Hannah
Mar 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories, arc
I beg you to read my words. - Bandi

This is an important book, one that needs to be read and it was highly enlightening for me. Bandi is the pseudonym of a writer living in North Korea and this collection of short stories was smuggled out of the country and has been published in South Korea. As such it is unusual - normally the stories we can read about North Korea are written by people who have fled the country - and not by somebody who is still very much a part of it. While reading it, I first
...more
David
Mar 13, 2017 rated it liked it
The first work of fiction to come out of North Korea - smuggled and written under the pseudonym Bandi which means firefly in Korean. It's translated by the Korean translator du jour Deborah Smith, she of The Vegetarian and Human Acts.

This is a collection of grim short stories and while it flies under the banner of fiction and certainly reads like some absurdist dystopia, you get the sense it is more lightly fictionalized reportage than imaginary fiction. It's a bleak portrayal of North Korea th
...more
Idarah
Jun 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
 photo IMG_0286_zpstuklqt79.jpg
"A sincere, genuine life is possible only for those who have freedom. Where emotions are suppressed and actions monitored, acting only becomes ubiquitous, and so convincing that we even trick ourselves. Look at all these people sobbing over a death that happened three months ago, starving because they haven't been able to draw their rations all the while. What about the mother of the child bitten by a snake while he was out gathering flowers forKim Il-sung's altar? Perhaps she finds her priv
...more
Helene Jeppesen
Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was impressive! “The Accusation” is a collection of short stories written by an anonymous person from North Korea who risked his life publishing this book in order to make the world aware of the brutal conditions of his country. In other words, Bandi is a pseudonym, but the stories - even though they are fiction - are real!
Basically, these short stories depict a North Korea whose dictatorship is built on fear and hereditary hierarchy. No one is allowed to speak against the dictators;
...more
Kavita
I have read a number of memoirs and non-fiction books written by North Koreans, especially those who escaped. The thing that is intriguing about The Accusation: Forbidden Stories from Inside North Korea is that the author is still living in North Korea, and that it is fiction. So this is genuine North Korean fiction, of the style that we don't really get to see in the bookshelves often. I think this is the reason most people have given it a high rating.

As for the book itself, I found it slightly
...more
shakespeareandspice
Where in the world might you find such a garden, such a den of evil magic, where cries of pain and sadness where wrenched from the mouths of its people and distorted into laughter?

The Accusation is a collection of stories smuggled out of North Korea, the most repressive nation in the world, and published under the pseudonym of Bandi. Bandi shares with us a very diverse collection of voices; we get stories from husbands and wives, daughters and sons, families and friends, each exposing a blea
...more
Kaitlin
Nov 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a collection of stories which were smuggled out of North Korea. The author is still living within the closed-off country, and they wanted their stories to be shared with the world.

Although the stories are fictional, there is a very deep resonance with the truth and the lives of people who live in North Korea. The stories all talk about the suppression and horrors of living under the Great Leader, and they each focus on some element of family life and the culture of North Korea. From the
...more
Alice Lippart
Although I struggled a bit with the individual stories, I think that as a whole, it paints an incredibly interesting picture. A very unique book.
Nenia ✨️ Socially Awkward Trash Panda ✨️ Campbell

Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest


THE ACCUSATION is amazing, and not because of the stories it contains. According to the afterword, it is a historical first: no other book criticizing North Korea has been published by a North Korean who still lives in North Korea. Apparently, his/her 750 page handwritten manuscript was smuggled out and published in South Korea. So keep that in mind, while reading.



Most of these stories have a unifying theme: they're often written by some
...more
April (Aprilius Maximus)
*3.5 STARS*
This was absolutely fascinating. A collection of short stories that were smuggled out of North Korea with the author still living there undetected. My problem with this book relies entirely on me and the fact that I'm not a huge fan of short stories, but they were really interesting and I loved how the book also included a section on how the manuscript was smuggled out and a little bit about the author.
Claire Reads Books
Mar 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Rating or “reviewing” The Accusation seems kind of beside the point. For Bandi, writing this book was a matter of life or death, and you can feel it on every page. It is a cry in the dark, a message in a bottle sent out to the free world from a place that most of us can’t even begin to imagine. An essential read.
Nocturnalux
Jun 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have no words to express how important, moving, terrifying and absolutely vital this book is. So instead of saying anything of my own, I will simply leave a poem of Bandi's- a man who risked his life so that the plight of everyday North Koreans could be heard- that was included in the Manuscript of The Accusation:

Fifty years in this northern land
Living as a machine that speaks
Living as a human under a yoke
Without talent
With a pure indignation
Written not with pen and ink
But with bones drench
...more
Leah
Mar 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hidden behind the curtain...

This is a collection of seven short stories written between 1989 and 1995 under the regimes of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il in North Korea. The author's identity remains secret, since he still lives in the country - his pseudonym means “firefly”. He is, or perhaps was, part of the official writers' association, writing articles approved by the regime, but in his own time he began secretly to write these stories, showing a different version of daily life under this extr
...more
Michael
Jun 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Before I started reading, the ramifications of this book were not lost on me. Put it simply, it is a miracle that this collection of short stories ever seen the light of day. Instead of being written by someone who defected or by a visiting journalist, The Accusation was written by an ordinary person who still lives in one of the most repressive countries on Earth.

In truth, there is nothing remarkable about any of the stories, but what they do is confirm (if it was needed) what many of us the We
...more
Kyriakos Sorokkou



Δείτε την κριτική στα Ελληνικά στις βιβλιοαλχημείες

It's been two months since I left my house. The first month especially felt to me like living in a dystopian world.

But this personal dystopia of mine cannot be compared with the dystopia that the North Koreans live for decades now.

I would describe this book as dystopian realism. Such a genre doesn't officially exist in literary criticism, BUT it's a valid term in my opinion for real stories taking place in totalitarian regimes either historical
...more
Gustavo Vazquez
May 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(review based on the French edition - La Dénonciation)

What is it?

This is a book that was written by a North Korean writer still living there, but as it is against the government, it was smuggled through the border and published in South Korea in 2014. Bandi is a pseudonym. In the French edition there is quite a lot of information about him/her (the genre is not told – let´s suppose it´s a "he") - he was born in 1950, lived in China during his childhood, and is now an official writer for the go
...more
Krista
Mar 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The old man of Europe with his bristling beard
Claimed that capitalism is a pitch-black realm
While communism is a world of light

I, Bandi, of this so-called world of light,
Fated to shine only in a world of darkness,
Denounce in front of the whole world
That light which is truly fathomless darkness,
Black as a moonless night at the year's end.

The Accusation, a collection of seven short stories (written between 1989 and 1995), is the first work of Western-published fiction to be written by a citize
...more
Neha
Jul 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
(Print) This book is a nice collection of seven short stories and a poem, that was anonymously written and smuggled into South Korea to publish.

I've never read anything about North Korea before, much less absorbed the depth of the regime's principles. The common thread that bound some of these stories was the fear for their own lives as well as their families as people displayed (acted) loyalty towards the Party and Party ideals. While individually people may feel wavering loyalty and doubt to
...more
Shawn Mooney (Shawn The Book Maniac)
Smuggled out of North Korea, many of these stories are pretty good. But literary evaluation is utterly beside the point: any sentence from any one would get Bandi strung up. I shall never forget the woman character whose dad had been a war hero; her baby boy kept screaming and crying at the sight of the Dear Leader portrait across the street. She thought this offence would be given a pass due to her dad's valor. How do you think that turned out?
Lauren
Reader! I beg you to read my words.
--Bandi

The story of how this manuscript was smuggled out of North Korea could be a novel itself. Bandi, the pen name of an anonymous male author, who still lives and works in North Korea, means "firefly" - an interesting choice of name as he shines light on and illuminates this society and its regime.

Seven stories of daily life - domestic trials, work, visiting family, public transportation - yet, each of these situations are so very different than our own
...more
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
This is a collection of short stories criticizing the North Korean government. Purportedly, it was written by an anonymous North Korean official still living in the country, and smuggled out as a handwritten manuscript. Upon reading the first couple of stories, though, I began to wonder if that backstory is a publicity stunt. I’ve read a lot of contemporary English-language fiction, and a lot of fiction from countries around the world, and what struck me about this collection is that it is writt ...more
R K
This book is exact proof as to why writing and literature is so imperative to the world.
Literature is always imbued in politics. It's always a response to some issue in the world, even stories that seem far fetched. You can say that literature is the gatekeeper of humanity due to its ability to inform, educate, and even warn. Which is why most people in positions of high power hate it.

Bandi (firefly in Korean) is someone who grew up during the start of the North Korean regime. He is still alive
...more
Jill
Mar 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: translations
It's a sobering thought to imagine the author in North Korea writing these stories (in pencil) based on the lives of average North Koreans. He still lives there but managed to smuggle his stories out & now they are being translated by 17 publishers around the world. (Deborah Smith translated the English edition.)

To me, these stories are important for what they tell us about life in North Korea rather than being of interest based solely on literary merit. At the end of the book it states "and now
...more
Lisa
Feb 11, 2018 rated it liked it
The story of how The Accusation, a collection of 7 short stories, was smuggled out of North Korea is fascinating. I have read several memoirs by North Korean defectors and the amazing novel The Orphan Master's Son, but this was my first opportunity to read fiction by a North Korean.

The collection is not as compelling as the back story. The power from these simple stories comes from the harsh life of its characters, who are stripped of basic freedoms under a brutal dictatorship. But the stories t
...more
Erica
Mar 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
I didn't enjoy these stories. I feel like everyone loves it because it's rare, due to the politics of North Korea and the exceptional circumstances of the publishing. But the stories were flat for me. As I read them, I realized I couldn't distinguish one character and plot from the next. It's just not great writing. The two poems that open and close the collection were the best parts.
Elvan
Mar 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: net-galley
The afterword of this collection explains that these stories which ridicule and satirize the North Korean regime have been smuggled out of the country by a friend of a man who still lives in North Korea. The stories were written between 1989 and 1995. Bandi risked his life and those of his family smuggling out these snippets of life under the Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il dictatorships. These stories are a powerful representation of the hardships faced by these citizens of this violent and dark re ...more
Amanda
Jul 23, 2019 rated it liked it
This book is compiled of seven fictional stories in North Korea. Set during the period of Kim Jong-Il’s leadership, these stories highlight different aspects of life under one of the world's most oppressive regimes. I believe these stories were written between 1989-1995.

Each of these stories focus on a different cast of characters and they each show what life is like under extreme communist law and the cult of personality that was Kim Jong-il. Expressing discontent with the government, its leade
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Long Road Home: Testimony of a North Korean Camp Survivor
  • Pavane for a Dead Princess
  • An American Dream: The Life of an African American Soldier and POW Who Spent Twelve Years in Communist China
  • Friend: A Novel from North Korea
  • Not Forgotten: The True Story of My Imprisonment in North Korea
  • A Kim Jong-Il Production: The Extraordinary True Story of a Kidnapped Filmmaker, His Star Actress, and a Young Dictator's Rise to Power
  • Human Acts
  • Mi hermano femenino: Carta a la amazona
  • Dear Leader: Poet, Spy, Escapee - A Look Inside North Korea
  • The Story of Hong Gildong
  • The Invitation-Only Zone: The True Story of North Korea's Abduction Project
  • 82년생 김지영
  • Discovering Joy: Ten Years in North Korea
  • WEST IS WEST
  • At Dusk
  • Winter in Sokcho
  • The Dwarf
  • Black Flower
See similar books…
33 followers
Bandi (반디, Korean for "Firefly"; born 1950) is the pseudonym used by a North Korean writer.

Bandi was born in 1950 in China to Korean parents who had moved there fleeing the Korean War. Bandi grew up in China before the family moved back to North Korea. In the 1970s, Bandi managed to publish some of his early writing in North Korean publications.

After the death of Kim Il-sung in 1994 and the hardsh
...more

News & Interviews

You know the saying: There's no time like the present...unless you're looking for a distraction from the current moment. In that case, we can't...
45 likes · 19 comments
“Surely you know that whatever the play, the curtain always falls at the end.” 6 likes
“What crime have I committed? Am I a thief or a murderer, to have to degrade myself like this? In this country of mine, is it a crime just to go and visit your sick mother?” 3 likes
More quotes…