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Freedom Collection

Interviews with Kim Seong Min

Interviewed June 23, 2024

My father was a renowned writer in North Korea. I even saw several scholars write their doctoral thesis on my father’s literary works. As the only son of the family, as a child, I also thought that I might become a writer and publish what I wanted.

In 1967 and 1968, there was an incident in North Korea where the regime selected 100 foreign literary works and destroyed them all. But we kept several of those books on our shelves in our house.

As a child, I secretly peeked into books like Les MiserablesThe Iliad, and War and Peace. As I peeked into these books, I thought to myself: “Is there any place in this world where I am free to read these books?”

By coincidence, I was able to listen to a South Korean radio program. It said that some 20,000 books are published each year in the South. I thought to myself, “Could this really be true? If there was a country in this world where I could write and publish as freely as I want, then it would be worth risking my life [to get there].”

So on a very personal note, freedom to me is the freedom of being able to write.