Recalling What Was Unspeakable: Hunger in North Korea
In this chapter the author explores not only what is silenced or unspeakable at the time of the interview, but also what was unspeakable at time of the experience and how these relate to each other. The Konan Haenggun, or March of Suffering, originally referred to Kim Il Sung’s 1938 historic march to Manchuria with his anti-Japanese guerrilla troops in 1938–9. The terminology used to express the situation needed to be inaccurate—it needed to transpose the imaginary onto the real. The social environment in North Korea lends itself to sustained lack of clarity as regards accurate information on factors which lead up to famine and consequential events such as public execution, disappearance and rumour. The language of North Koreans demonstrates the dynamics of power during the 1990s, and the sturdy nationalist discourse is carried through it. The author began this chapter by asking whether sites of suffering limit articulation after the experience, just as they might have during the experience.