Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was on tour to promote her book "Democracy: Stories from the Long Road to Freedom." Speaking in an interview, Rice lauded President Donald Trump's decision to enlist the help of China in dealing with North Korea.
"I wonder if the Chinese aren't beginning to reconsider their view that ... a stable North Korean regime, even if it is nuclear-armed, is better than an unstable one," she said.
Rice, now a professor at Stanford University, said that the North Korean regime was trying to send a message to the White House that this Communist nation was strong and powerful. Photos released by the North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) revealed the citizens doing fine. However, defectors to South Korea claimed that the cameraman knew which parts of Pyongyang would look good during night time. They added that commuters were wary during rush hour, as thieves would try to pickpocket them. The North Korea women's football team, once a force to reckon in international competitions, were forced to train on the asphalt roads. If these facts won't be believable enough, then a South Korea publication company released a collection of short stories by a North Korean man three years ago. He would go by the name of Bandi. "The Accusation" would be up for international publication, which should worry outsiders.
Bandi was born in 1950. He followed his parents to China during the Korean War. He became affiliated with the Chosun Writers' League Central Committee long after his return to North Korea. His predisposition toward literature resulted in the publication of his works in several North Korean magazines. He was resolved with a mission to spread the word after the dealth of Kim Il-sung in 1994; he saw many North Koreans leaving their homeland in able to survive. His short stories were an accumulation of his observation during the last few decades, which he wrote on paper (using a pencil). He kept the manuscript in a small cupboard, as he was aware that his prospects would be poor if authorities found it.
Some readers may be doubting Bandi's tales, even if they would be published in the US. As a matter of fact, those who would be sympathizing with current leader Kim Jong-Un could see it as propaganda against North Korea. It should be safe to assume that Bandi was a pseudonym, and the same thing could be said of the name of his characters in this collection of shorts. On the other hand, Bandi wouldn't gain anything from it. There was no doubt about his intentions. (It may remind some readers of Charles Webb, who didn't profit much from the success of "The Graduate". He had aversion to the mainstream and the commercialization of literature.) "The Accusation" wasn't about pointing a finger at Kim Jong-Un, even telling the rest of the world that they were right (about their impressions about North Korea). Bandi depicted angry characters, who tried their darn best to live by the system. But it could be too much.
For instance, "City of Specters" showed that womenfolk have a big burden to bear. They must take part in propaganda activities, as well as other social activities. They have domestic duties as well. Bandi told the case of Hun Gyeong-hee, whose little boy was terrified by the sight of the giant image of Karl Marx. It had nothing to do with treachery, as it was rather psychological in nature. It could be treated, which the young mother thought all along. She covered their window with a dark cloth, which would prevent his son from seeing Marx's image. Alas, the Party deemed it a disgrace. In "Life of a Swift Steed", Jeon Yeong-il believed that the elm tree outside his home gave significance to his (decorated) life. However, the winter was turning his home into a block of ice. His wife was already complaining of having to carry branches and barks from the valley not far away from their area. She would be alluding to the cutting of his beloved elm tree, where he had fond memories of it. The same tree turned him into a distinguished citizen of the party, with tens of medals to show off. But metals won't provide the much-needed warmth during the long winter.
Both tales, as well as the others, showed how these characters were disheartened after dealing with a distressing situation long enough. Something seemed to snap inside them, which their comrades would see it differently. The aim of literature was never to judge people, even the system (or beliefs) that they follow throughout their lives. In the case of Bandi, most readers would wonder why he didn't escape to South Korea. He would have wife and children. There won't be a better place than home. Perhaps the author deemed he was too old to take a risk. His characters would share these sentiments. They may turned out to be his neighbors, if not town mates.
Did foreign publications put the noose around Bandi's neck (after the publication of his shorts)? Perhaps. Enduring the freezing weather couldn't be worse, though.