Originally compiled and written by North Korean defector and author Lim Il, this English-language edition, thoroughly annotated by Dr. Adam Zulawnik, is a fascinating collection of 34 interviews with highly prominent North Korean defectors residing in South Korea, ranging from religious figures, to artists, politicians, North Korea experts, and even divers and subway train operators.
The 33 interviews herein are listed chronologically according to the interviewees'' date of arrival to South Korea and span almost 70 years. The book also includes six special columns addressing key issues pertaining to North Korean defectors and their lives in South Korea, such as the relationship between North Korean defectors and their South Korean counterparts (South Korean defectors to North Korea; nomenclature (how North Korean defectors have been referred to in South Korean society over time); arrival and settlement provisions from the South Korean government; the nuanced difference between defectors, defector-residents, and the displaced; North Korean defector-residents and their position in South Korean politics; and a short biography of five notable North Korean defector-residents who were not interviewed. The English translation also contains an exclusive 34th interview with Lim Il, the source text author which was carried out towards the end of the project in October 2020.
The book is a valuable testament to North Korean defector-residents and unique in that it provides a candid account of each individual’s experience. It will prove to be especially useful to students and scholars seeking to understand the complex dynamics of North Korean society and the status of exiles in South Korea, and a vital resource for students of Korean Studies.
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