Dear Leader: Inside North Korea

Talk Thursday 8 May 2014, 7:00 PM

Jang Jin-sung, a poet laureate for North Korea, led a privileged life unaware of the suffering of his fellow countrymen. He was a cadre in Section 5 (Literature), Division 19 (Poetry) of Office 101 and was personally endorsed by Kim Jong-il for a triumphalist poem he’d penned glorifying the Kim dynasty and the state.

It was only following a visit to his home town, where he witnessed suffering, starvation and unimaginable poverty, that he began to question the system in which he lived. What followed is an extraordinary story of awakening, terror and escape.

Jang Jin-sung will be joining us to share his story and give us an insight in to the circles of power and privilege in North Korea. We will also be joined by experts to reflect on Jang Jin-sung’s story and explore what it reveals about the inner workings of North Korea’s elite.

Chaired by John Everard, a retired British diplomat who served as British Ambassador to North Korea. He is author of Only Beautiful, Please: A British Diplomat in North Korea.

The panel:

Jang Jin-sung is a former court poet for North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il. Since leaving the country he has become a bestselling author and poet. He has been awarded the Rex Warner Literary Prize and read his poetry at London’s Cultural Olympiad in 2012. He now lives in South Korea and is editor-in-chief of New Focus International. He is author of Dear Leader.

Paul French is an author and a widely published analyst and commentator on Asia, Asian politics and current affairs. He is author of North Korea: State of Paranoia and the international bestseller Midnight in Peking. He has lived and worked in Shanghai for many years and has visited North Korea on a number of occasions.