Dear Leader: Poet, Spy, Escapee--A Look Inside North Korea
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THE STORY THEY COULDN'T HACK: In this rare insider’s view into contemporary North Korea, a high-ranking counterintelligence agent describes his life as a former poet laureate to Kim Jong-il and his breathtaking escape to freedom.
“The General will now enter the room.”
Everyone turns to stone. Not moving my head, I direct my eyes to a point halfway up the archway where Kim Jong-il’s face will soon appear…
As North Korea’s State Poet Laureate, Jang Jin-sung led a charmed life. With food provisions (even as the country suffered through its great famine), a travel pass, access to strictly censored information, and audiences with Kim Jong-il himself, his life in Pyongyang seemed safe and secure. But this privileged existence was about to be shattered. When a strictly forbidden magazine he lent to a friend goes missing, Jang Jin-sung must flee for his life.
Never before has a member of the elite described the inner workings of this totalitarian state and its propaganda machine. An astonishing exposé told through the heart-stopping story of Jang Jin-sung’s escape to South Korea, Dear Leader is a rare and unprecedented insight into the world’s most secretive and repressive regime.
to discover the source of my aches and pains. Watching the sky unfurl into color with the coming of the dawn, it seemed for a moment that I might find my way back in no time at all. But the city turned out to be much more complex than I had appreciated in the dark. I despaired as the map of familiar places that I had carefully pieced together in my head scattered and was replaced by the chaos of this inscrutable city. As midday passed into afternoon, my stomach started to grumble. Only when I
wept as I remembered my mother’s last words: “Let me see your eyes.” Why had I stopped her from looking into her son’s eyes? My body trembled with angry regret. When I arrived at work, my colleagues came up to me. “What’s wrong with your eyes?” they asked. I lied that I had an eye infection, and this led to a stroke of luck. After our morning meeting, Supervisor Park urged me to go to a doctor, saying that he had suffered from something similar in the past. On the pretext of getting my eye
Cultural Revolution. While China’s Red Guards aimed to eliminate capitalist and revisionist elements, the three revolutionary goals for North Korea were ideology, industry, and culture. In the manner of Red Guards, units made up of youths about to finish their education were set up all over the country to implement the three revolutionary goals. Their main enemy was the “abuse of power and corruption of provincial bureaucrats.” As Central Party cadres with ties to regional forces were eliminated
his political enemies were vigilantly watched under the premise of ideological surveillance by the OGD’s section for party guidance. The North Korean state, previously founded on the twin powers of the Workers’ Party and the government, came to be entirely dependent on the party. By Kim Jong-il’s time, the party had replaced all the functions of government, which had become no more than a hollow shell and a historical remnant. But why did Kim Il-sung stand by and do nothing about his son’s
that read YANJI CHURCH in black letters. Inside, I knew there would be South Koreans, and my heart swelled at the thought of falling into the embrace of my countrymen. Young-min too was verging on tears, as if we had come to the threshold of South Korea itself. I asked him to knock. Sure enough, a voice answered in Korean, and when we entered there were three middle-aged men inside. One of them, wearing glasses, flushed on seeing us. His eyes, peering behind thick lenses, seemed unusually small.