Revealing the Horror and Fear That Rules Life in North Korea

February 24, 2014       By Scott Johnson
      Scott Johnson has headed Newsweek’s Mexico and Baghdad bureaus, and is the author of “The Wolf and the Watchman: A Father, A Son and the CIA.”
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In Adam Johnson’s Pulitzer Prize–winning novel about North Korea, The Orphan Master’s Son, there’s a scene in which Jun Do, the orphan hero of the novel’s title, is undergoing a heinous torture session. To cope, he recalls a lesson learned from his “pain mentor,” a man named Kimsan. “He tried to diffuse the pain in his chest across his body…to feel the flame not on the part but the entire, to visualize the flow of his blood spreading, diluting the hurt in his heart across the whole of him.”

The cruelty of the North Korean regime that was laid out in painstaking detail in a voluminous report the United Nations released last…

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