Jang Jin-sung was one of Pyongyang’s elite, a young and ambitious poet who had been admitted into Kim Jong-il’s inner circle. He spent his days masquerading as a South Korean, crafting poetry for publication in South Chosun that sang the praises of the Dear Leader and General Kim Il-sung.
By all appearances Mr Jang was a loyal comrade. But inside, he held within him the sickening truth about the regime. In 2004, after committing an unpardonable act, he defected. He fled to China, then began a treacherous journey to South Korea.
Mr Jang’s memoir Dear Leader tells the story of his defection and his life in North Korea. He also tells the true story of how Kim Jong-il ascended to power and reveals the existence of the faceless men of the North Korean regime who pull the levers behind the scenes.
I spoke to Mr Jang by phone in advance of his appearances at this year’s Sydney Writers Festival, which ended on 25 May. We communicated through his translator, Shirley Lee, who was also the translator for his book.
Dear Leader: North Korea’s senior propagandist exposes shocking truths behind the regime is published by Random House.
Interview broadcast on ArtSound FM.
Interview air date: 24 May 2014.
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