Not long ago, a new high-profile North Korean defector emerged with a tell-all memoir of intrigue in Vienna and Austria, which was covered on this blog via an exclusive translation of an interview with the author. Unfortunately, so far as I know, no plans exist to render this memoir — a new (and potentially vital) source of information — into English. Thus I am pleased to bring you the first installment in what I hope is a series of sporadic translations of original portions of the text. Afterwards I’ll say a few words of assessment of the text more generally, since I’ve been chewing on it for about two days now, in between a few other pressing matters.
Im Dienst des Diktators: Leben und Flucht eines nordkoreanischen Agenten p. 34 [translation by Adam Cathcart]:
Chapter 3: Korea Against Korea
On one day which was like any other, the hated Japanese police disappeared from Kim Jong Ryul’s village. The police post in Hijong was empty, and no sign of the decades-long Japanese presence remained. In the village people began to prepare to hope that the rumors were true: that the war was over, that Japan had capitulated, and Korea, finally, was free. On 15 August 1945, the happy news finally came to the 50 inhabitants of Hijong that they could immediately start to celebrate. Kim Jong Ryul ran around the village and screamed like all other children in the countryside: “The war is over, the war is over!” With a stupefying joy, on this day what had long been forbidden was now allowed: The hymn of — free — Korea could be sung, the flag raised, and everyone could shout together: “Free! Free!” The enthusiasm over the end of the war had hardly concluded when Kim Jong Ryul’s family received the happy news that his father, who had been taken (verschleppte) to Japan was now coming back from his bondage.
No sooner than his father returned, than the first communist strode into little Hijong. In his joy of having the gift of his long-missed father back by his side, Kim Jong Ryul also recognized that new men in power in the village quickly became strangely alert. In the orphaned police house, armed peasants now greeted rebel quarters with friendly attitudes, and communist patrols moved more than daily through the village. From the first day of their appearance, led by those who had returned from the Soviet Union, it was very clear: From this day forward, this [communism] would be the tone.
Translating this full page of German prose reminds me that German tends to be longer than English…
In any case, this excerpt should indicate to interested readers that there is much more to this text than a simple retelling of North Korean arms dealings in Vienna in the 1980s and early 1990s, but that Kim Jong Ryul describes the duration of his life within the embrace of the DPRK. In particular, Chapter 4 (pp. 52-74) is an in-depth look at the lives of North Korean students in East Germany from 1955-1962, a very significant topic (Kim Jong Il spent a lost year in East Germany in 1960-61 when the wall was about to go up) about which I’ve got a few interesting documents from the Berlin archives and hope to read more.