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Defected North Korean Poet Speaks Out

By Harriet Staff

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been following the Poetry Parnassus in London, which has brought many international voices into the spotlight. Defected North Korean poet Jang Jin-sung recalls his former career under Kim Jong Il and the brutality of life under that regime. From this CBS article:

He says he was one of late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il’s favorite propaganda artists, singing the praises of the Dear Leader in dozens of poems. But these days Jang Jin-sung says he prefers to tell the truth about North Korea.

The former state poet, who defected to South Korea in 2004, now writes to tell the world about what he calls the brutality of everyday life in the North.

“North Korea has nuclear programs, but South Korea has the media,” said Jang, who is in London for a global poetry festival involving poets from countries competing in the July 27 to Aug. 12 London Olympics. “Truth is the strongest weapon.”

Jang’s poems now tell of public executions, hunger and desperate lives. He said that the piece he chose to submit to London’s Poetry Parnassus festival, “I Sell My Daughter for 100 Won,” is based on one of his worst memories in North Korea – recollections of a mother trying to sell her daughter in the market place.

Read the rest here.

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Posted in Poetry News on Monday, July 2nd, 2012 by Harriet Staff.