Poetic Expression in North Korean Defector Culture
Significance of Defector Poets
Mass migration prompted by the great famine of the 1990s has transformed the status of North Korean defectors in South Korean society from that of a strategic tool in the ideological wars to a social minority in need of assimilation. The unofficial count of North Koreans crossing the border ranges from 100,000 to 300,000, with the number entering South Korea now well over 10,000. In these numbers, defectors have not only lost their ideological influence as living proof of the superiority of the Southern regime, but are now reduced to a cultural minority whose past existence is rarely if ever acknowledged.
This article is an attempt to examine North Korean defector culture through examples of North Korean defector poetry. Key examples of this genre published to date include Jang Jin-sung’s I Am Selling My Daughter for 100 Won (chogabje.com, 2008), Kim Ok-ae’s Rice Porridge Incident (Sam Woo Publishing Co., 2005), Kim Dae-ho’s Confessions of a Naked Poem (Living Books, 2003), and Kim Seong-min’s Why Are Songs about Home Always Sad? (Dashi, 2004).
Multi-Layers of Defector Psychology