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The Red Years: Forbidden Poems from Inside North Korea

Translated by:
Publisher: , 2019
Link to online store *

From the publisher’s website:

Though North Korea holds the attention of the world, it is still rare for us to hear North Korean voices, beyond those few who have escaped. Known only by his pen name, the poet and author ‘Bandi’ stands as one of the most distinctive and original dissident writers to emerge from the country, and his work is all the more striking for the fact that he continues to reside in North Korea, writing in secret, with his work smuggled out of the country by supporters and relatives.

The Red Years represents the first collection of Bandi’s poetry to be made available in English. As he did in his first work The Accusation, Bandi here gives us a rare glimpse into everyday life and survival in North Korea. Singularly poignant and evocative, The Red Years stands as a testament to the power of the human spirit to endure and resist even the most repressive of regimes.

About the author

The author and poet known only as ‘Bandi’ (a pseudonym meaning ‘firefly’) spent his childhood in China before returning to North Korea, the country of his birth, as a young man. Initially writing for North Korean magazines, the focus of Bandi’s writing changed forever after the deaths of many people close to him during the great famine of the 1990s. The experiences of this time made him resolve to share with the outside world a true likeness of the harsh North Korean society as he himself saw it. With the help of a relative, he was able to smuggle a collection of his poems and stories to South Korea. The first part of this manuscript achieved international acclaim when it was published as the short story collection The Accusation: Forbidden Stories From Inside North Korea (2018).

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* Where the book is available from a number of sources, they are prioritised as follows: (1) Amazon UK site, or for the more recent uploads (2) Amazon US site (3) Other sites in US or Europe, including second-hand outlets (4) LTI Korea, where the title is advertised as available from there (5) Onlines stores in Korea. Links to and Amazon UK site contain an affiliate code which, should you make a purchase, gives a small commission to LKL at no additional cost to you.