This nation revels in the 77-year-old novel, finding echoes of itself in the tale of civil war and the ruthless, beautiful woman who vowed never to go hungry again. More than one million North Koreans are estimated to have died or gone missing in the Korean War, and hundreds of thousands more died in a 1990s famine that tore deep into the country. The government, for reasons never made clear, had the book translated in the mid-1990s, when North Korea was struggling to survive without Soviet aid and the mass starvation was under way.
In a country with few entertainment choices that have escaped the propaganda bureaucrats, the novel gripped the capital. Today it’s hard to find an adult in Pyongyang who hasn’t read it. A guide at the Grand People’s Study House, a musty Pyongyang monolith, sees the book as proof that American women are poorly treated. A Kaesong bureaucrat, a haughty man with a fading blue-striped tie, sees the book as a Marxist morality tale. A woman with a troubled marriage tells me she discovered strength in Scarlett O’Hara’s cold-blooded tenacity. The book is entertainment and solace and inspiration. It’s a window into America. It’s a celebration of a people who, like the North Koreans, are fiercely proud of fighting the Yankees.
Monday, October 28, 2013
Today's Fact about North Korea
Gone with the Wind -- the novel, that is -- is hugely popular there. Tim Sullivan: