For years, Jang Jin Sung traveled within Kim Jong-il’s inner circle. As North Korea’s official poet laureate, he was tasked with “writing epic poems for [the] dictator … and overseeing inter-Korean espionage.” But in 2004, fearing a charge of treason, Sung fled the country, becoming one of the nation’s most high-profile defectors. Recently, Sung – who just published his memoir – spoke with Maclean’s about his life, his escape, and literature.
“You have turned to stone. A hairline crack runs along your entire length from crown to toe. Your feet have turned to liquid, and you are melting onto the kitchen floor.” Are you living in an Elena Ferrante novel? Li Sian Goh at The Toast has compiled a helpful list of ways to tell whether or not you might be a character in Ferrante’s final Neapolitan novel, The Story of the Lost Child.