North Korea

Banned Book Smuggled Out: ‘The Accusation’


You may have already discovered that stories of “everyman” often become the greatest classics of all time. But, the publishing history of those stories isn’t always easy or uneventful. The greatest and most memorable works of literature are often challenged, questioned, censored, and banned books. Such is the case with the book out of North Korea, The Accusation; Forbidden Stories from Inside North Korea, by Bandi.

Stories of Everyman

The idea of covering the stories of the common man (everyman) has a rich history, from Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, George Eliot’s Middlemarch, James Joyce’s Dubliners, and countless other stories, though it originated with the 15th century morality play.

Bandi’s mysterious collection was purportedly helped to smuggle the book out of North Korea by Do Hee-youn, an activist, who told CNN: “It doesn’t deal with political prison camps, or public executions, human rights issues. It shows normal life of North Korea citizens and it is very frightening. This book shows that they live like slaves.”

Writer Hiding In Plain Sight

The man known to the world only as “Bandi” was a part of the Korean Writers’ Alliance, so he wrote for the North Korean propaganda machine until he retired. The 750-page manuscript was penned on coarse writing paper. As far as anyone knows, Bandi is still living (and safe) in North Korea. We can only assume that he’s still writing. Whether or not he will ever successfully get more of his manuscripts smuggled out is anyone’s guess.

“It is very difficult to bring a document out of North Korea,” according to Do. A defector, claiming to be Bandi’s relative, said the author had asked her to smuggle the book out So, Do and her fellow activists were able to smuggle the handwritten manuscript out amidst propaganda literature. Fortunately, it was only X-rayed, not searched. The book was then published in Korean in 2014, and has subsequently been released in 19 languages.

The latest releases were last month in the US and UK.


Esther is a full-time freelancer, who draws upon her background to deliver fun and compelling stories. To her, the story and the vehicle(s) of expression are important, but sometimes it's just as essential to explore those areas just outside one's comfort zone. She loves to jump head-first into that deep ravine, and discover where her parachute will take her.

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