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The Accusation: Forbidden Stories from Inside North Korea

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  3,847 ratings  ·  605 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 stories come from a wide ...more
Kindle Edition, 257 pages
Published March 7th 2017 by Grove Press (first published May 2014)
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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)

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Bill Kerwin

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 pseu
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 the stories between 1989 and 19Stars. The
Diane S ☔
Mar 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Kostas Papadatos
Το απόλυτο δυστοπικό βιβλίο. Βόρεια Κορέα φίλε μου… εκεί που η πραγματικότητα ξεπερνά τη πιο νοσηρή φαντασία. Ναι … και οι πρόγονοι του Κιμ Γιονγκ Ουν το ίδιο καθυστερημένοι ήταν.
Εφτά συγκλονιστικά διηγήματα που είναι αδύνατον να μη σε «ταρακουνήσουν». Πραγματικά, κάτι πάει λάθος σαυτόν το κόσμο. Το ανθρώπινο είδος, νομίζω πως το παραέχεσε.
Mar 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, short-stories
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
Magrat Ajostiernos
Otra lectura inolvidable para el #marzoasiatico que se lee con sorprendente facilidad y rapidez aún a pesar del tema que trata.
Reconozco que al principio este libro me chocó, y tardé un par de relatos en entrar en la manera de narrar de Bandi.
Esperaba más drama y emoción, pero realmente lo grande de estos cuentos es que logran despegarse de todo el melodrama esperado, siendo en cambio satíricos, irónicos y desgarradores.
Mostrándonos la vida cotidiana de personas comunes en la Corea del N
David Yoon
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
Helene Jeppesen
Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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;
Jun 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
 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 privat
Dec 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Η Καταγγελία αποτελείται από μία συλλογή με εφτά διηγήματα.
Τα διηγήματα είναι συγκινητικά, ευαίσθητα, εσωτερικά, με πολύ όμορφη αφήγηση γεμάτη αλληγορίες.
Αυτά τα διηγήματα πραγματικά παιδεύτηκαν πολύ για να έρθουν στα χέρια μας, καθώς δραπέτευσαν από μία χώρα της οποίας το κράτος έτσι και ήξερε, έτσι και ανακάλυπτε αυτή την συλλογή ή τον συγγραφέα του, τα πράγματα θα εξελίσσονταν πολύ δυσάρεστα για τον ίδιο και πιθανόν την οικογένεια του.
Με άγγιξαν αυτές οι ιστορίες που διάβασα
Joseph Spuckler
Feb 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: current-events
The Accusation: Forbidden Stories from Inside North Korea by Bandi is a collection of short stories that take place in North Korea around the transition of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il. Bandi, a pseudonym, is more of a mysterious person. He lived in North Korea and presumably still does. His writings have been smuggled out of North Korea and have been published in South Korea and France. Bandi is Korean for firefly and is shedding his little bit of light in a dark country.

Anyone who is trying to stay
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 s
Mar 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
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 bleak cultural landscape
Nov 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Bookstore Politeia
Πολύ σημαντικό βιβλίο.
Nenia ☠️ Hecka Wicked ☠️ Campbell

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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 someone who is doing their best to fit into the Party, only to dis
Vasco Simões
Sep 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books
Adoro tudo o que fala desse mundo estranho, hermético e desconhecido que é a Coreia do Norte. Este livro de contos foi contrabandeado para o Sul por uma pessoa a quem o autor passou os seus escritos. Bandi - o pirilampo - pretende trazer luz sobre as pessoas e histórias para que estas não morram no esquecimento. Adorei estes contos, estas personagens, estes cenários mentais de uma nação que vive noutro planeta e pensa de forma muito estranha à nossa. Não é todos os dias que viajamos para outras ...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
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.
Кремена Михайлова
Едно нещо беше най-изненадващо и силно за мен: усетих тези хора точно като хората на Южна Корея. Колкото (не много) познавам южнокорейците предимно от филмите на Kim Ki-duk и една друга корейска книжка - много подобни ми изглеждат „обикновените хора“ на Северна Корея. Не ми се иска да изреждам прилагателни и да обобщавам, но нали сигурно трябва да кажа какви са тези особености - избирам приблизителни думички, всички в положителния им смисъл: семплост, наивност дори, добродушие и при по-груби раз ...more
Aug 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reto-2017
Si de algo puede presumir Corea del Norte es de tener uno de los regímenes más herméticos y restrictivos del planeta. Sin embargo, la mera existencia de este libro supone un infortunio que desestabiliza la imagen ilusoria de absoluto control que el gobierno pretende ejercer sobre los ciudadanos del país. La acusación, pues, surge como un grito desesperado desde las entrañas de la sociedad norcoreana en forma de siete relatos tan lúcidos como desgarradores con los que su autor, Bandi —que en core ...more
George K.
Sep 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 20th-century
Βαθμολογία: 9/10

Το βιβλίο το αγόρασα με το που κυκλοφόρησε πέρυσι τον Οκτώβριο στα ελληνικά, αλλά μετά φαίνεται ότι το ξέχασα. Και τώρα με αφορμή όλες τις φασαρίες που γίνονται στην Κορεατική Χερσόνησο, το ξαναθυμήθηκα και είπα να το διαβάσω επιτέλους. Είναι χαλαρά μιας από τις καλύτερες και πιο ενδιαφέρουσες συλλογές διηγημάτων που έχω διαβάσει τα τελευταία χρόνια.

Όχι, δεν το λέω αυτό επειδή είναι γραμμένη από Βορειοκορεάτη συγγραφέα και κρύβεται ολόκληρη ιστορία πίσω από την κυκλο
Mar 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
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 extre
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 w
Vaios Pap
Sep 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Siento discrepar del océano de excelentes críticas que inunda la página de este libro en Goodreads. Es cierto que como mínimo es de admirar la valentía que demuestra Bandi a la hora de, viviendo él mismo con su familia allí, escribir y publicar sus cuentos acusatorios que señalan directamente a la represión de la dictadura norcoreana. Sin embargo, el problema es que las circunstancias y la historia de la publicación de este libro (explicadas en el epílogo en mi edición catalana) me han transmiti ...more
Gustavo R
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 – lets suppose its a "he") - he was born in 1950, lived in China during his childhood, and is now an official writer for th
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 fi
Mar 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, stories, korea
Amazing, not just for the real-life story of how this manuscript made it out of North Korea, but for the stories within. A truly subversive, courageous work. Bandi is a hero.

(Now I've got a computer and can elaborate a bit)

This is a collection of short stories (and two poems) that denounce life under communism and under the North Korean regime. If you've read another book about North Korea, then you'll recognize the things Bandi talks about: the travel permits,
Emiliya Bozhilova
Някъде прочетох, че екскурзиите в Северна Корея станали много популярни в Китай. Особено често се записвали възрастни китайци, преживели Големия Скок. Отивали в Северна Корея и просълзени си спомняли злочестите си, мизерни младини.

Четох също някъде, че сегашният севернокореец е с десетина и повече сантиметра по-нисък от южнокорейския си събрат. Заради диетата - но не в смисъла, който влагат модните списания.

В Северна Корея живеят хора. Хора, които имат своите чувства, малки радости,
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?
Jan 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
El mero hecho de calificar este libro me hizo sentir mal, porque este libro no fue hecho solo para dar a conocer el talento de alguien al escribir sino para poder transmitir el dolor y el sentir de una nación entera, con el peligro que el autor aceptó de perder su vida en el intento.
Este es un libro de un escritor nor-coreano desconocido, no se sabe el nombre del mismo por razones de seguridad, en una oportunidad que tuvo el autor, logró sacar de Corea del Norte sus manuscritos con cuentos
Jan 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Collection of seven short stories supposedly smuggled out of North Korea. Though fictional, the stories are meant to reflect the realities of living under an authoritarian dictatorship in NK and incorporate real instances faced by its long-suffering citizens. The writing is good, though I can't say it's great.

In place of Acknowledgments, there is a poem by the author which was smuggled out with the written manuscripts. This poem was the high point of the book for me. It's ridiculous
K.W. Colyard
Mar 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

It's only natural to expect people in the U.S. to be fascinated by — and a little wary of — news out of North Korea. The Hermit Kingdom has become our new boogeyman, replacing China and Russia as the focus of our Red Scare. But given the United States' near-total lack of communication with the other country, the bulk of our narratives about North Korea come from outsiders, from imaginative novelists and traveling teachers, or from defectors who have successfully found asylum elsewhere. All of th

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
Христо Блажев
Там, където и смехът, и сълзите са по команда:

Но книгата, написана под псевдонима Банди (Светулката), не е посветена на тоталитарната власт и нейните издевателства. Това е сборник с истории за обикновените хора, които са се адаптирали малко или много към абсурдната си реалност, и дишат, живеят, обичат, оцеляват година след година. Някои от тях са повярвали, че промяната преди десетилетия е за добро, после са изтрезнели; други са очаквали обещаваното светло бъдеще, което винаги е хей т
Reader! I beg you to read my words.

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 expe
Feb 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Montse Gallardo
Este es un libro que genera estupefacción, cierta incomodidad y -en definitiva- compasión por los sus personajes. Sus siete relatos nos ofrecen diferente facetas de una misma irracionalidad, la de un régimen cerrado, totalitario y autárquico que ahoga y reprime a sus ciudadanos condenados al trabajo y a manifestar de manera pública y notoria su afección al Líder y a sus dirigentes, para evitar la sospecha de disidencia. Una sospecha que puede surgir no ya por un comentario explícito criticando a ...more
Barbara McEwen
First off, amazing story about how the manuscript was smuggled out of North Korea. The stories themselves didn't blow me away but they are suffused with sadness, grief, a sense of betrayal, that really give you a glimpse into how hard life must be there. The oppression and pressures that come with it are constant and you feel that in the characters. Definitely worth experiencing.
Mar 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Es una lectura que da pavor. Pensar que hay gente sobreviviendo en una sociedad como la que describen los cuentos te hace preguntarte como la misma sociedad que lo sabe puede permitirlo. Cómo las personas que tiene la suerte de documentarse y elegir pueden ni tan siquiera pensar que el socialismo es igualdad, democracia y libertad. Cómo pueden haber personas en países democráticos queriendo imponer el Marxismo-leninismo a pesar de lo que la historia nos ha enseñado y ha dejado tras de sí.
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
Feb 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review and more are available on my blog:

The Accusation is a very unique set of short stories because they were written by an actual citizen living in North Korea and smuggled out of the country. As explained in the afterword of the book, Bandi works for a writing group in North Korea and wrote these stories in his spare time over many years. When one
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Bandi (반디, Korean for "Firefly"; born 1950) is the pseudonym used by a North Korean writer.

Bandi's short story collection, The Accusation (고발), was smuggled out of the country and published in Seoul in May 2014. Bandi's collection of political poems, The Red Years (붉은세월), was published in South Korea in January 2018.

Source: wikipedia
“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…