A Literary Thaw in Korea

Believe it or not, North Korea has a literary scene, although its indomitable muse is Kim Jong Il, who keeps writers on the national payroll to pen books about himself and who has personally written (according to Pyongyang) a nonfiction work on film and even some poetry. Kim Il Sung, the Dear Leader's father, once dubbed writers "engineers of the human soul"óbut he and his son have always had strict control over the project specs.

These days, however, North Korea's writers are getting a little leeway. Last week, Pyongyang said it would host a meeting of South...

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