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‘N. Korean writers beloved by Kim Jong Il are imprisoned`

‘N. Korean writers beloved by Kim Jong Il are imprisoned`

Updated September. 02, 2013 05:37

한국어

Writers in South Korea who defected from North Korea said they secured a list of some 10 North Korean writers who have been purged and imprisoned in the North since the 1980s. The list includes a number of famed writers who were beloved by the late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

Chairman Jang Hae-seong of the “PEN Center for Exiled North Korean Writers,” an organization of defected North Korean writers, and poet Lee Won-pil, a North Korean defector, said they would announce a report containing a list of North Korean writers imprisoned in the North and cases of their persecution at the imprisoned writers committee of the International PEN Club general assembly, which will take place in Iceland on Saturday.

The most notable among the list of imprisoned North Korean writers is Ri Chun Ku, who is known as the best playwright in the North. Ri, the late Kim’s close confident in the culture field, is the author of “Korean People and Destiny,” a series of biographical movies on key figures in the contemporary and modern eras since Korea’s liberation from Japanese colonial rule. According to the report, Ri was highly favored by Kim, and served as the president of the North’s Korea Movie Culture Creation Company. Though he received the title of “hard-working hero” twice, he was imprisoned in 2008. Poet Lee said, “Rumors are widespread that although Kim Jong Il pointed out certain parts needed revisions in Ri’s scenario, he declined to accept, which infuriated Kim and led him to order Ri’s imprisonment.”

Kim Jin Song, 70, who is considered one of the best novelists in the North, was reportedly arrested and imprisoned in 2007. He is the author of the full-length novel “At First Foot,” which describes growth and development of a left-leaning youth organization amid political conflict between rightists and leftists soon after Korea’s liberation. The report suggests that Kim was put behind bars because he was a close acquaintance of former railroad minister Kim Yong Sam, who was executed for his responsibility for the explosion at Yongchon Station that happened in 2004.

The report was written by the PEN Center for Exiled North Korean Writers based on information that investigative writers in the China-North Korea border, whom the center had sent into the North, gathered from writers in the Stalinist country in May and June this year. According to defected North Korean writers, though political oppression of North Korean writers and their imprisonment had been studied through investigation of literatures, the new study is the first case that local people concerned in the North were interviewed. Chairman Jang said, “Political persecution and imprisonment of writers are routinely committed in the North, which only allows literary works meant to help sustain its regime. Going forward, we will continue to trace the situation of persecution of North Korean writers and share with the international community.”