PEN to Open Center Representing N.Koreans

      February 20, 2012 13:02

      The London-based PEN International is expected to open a center representing North Korean writers.

      PEN President John Ralston Saul and Lee Gil-won, the head of the South Korean center, said the proposal will be officially ratified at the organization's 78th International PEN Congress in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province in September. They added that the event "would mark the first instance in which writers from North Korea would be able to discuss the issues of freedom of speech and human rights with writers from around the world."

      Around 500 writers from around 100 countries will attend the conference, including Nobel laureates Jean-Marie Le Clezio of France, Wole Soyinka of Nigeria and Orhan Pamuk of Turkey.

      The North Korean center will consist of around 20 writers who have escaped the North. They said they are eager to use their "pens, which are mightier than swords, to lead the spread of democracy in North Korea."

      The writers and academics were considered part of the North Korean elite before they defected and have continued their careers in South Korea. They include Rim Il, the author of "Novel Kim Jong-il," Ahn Chan-il, the first North Korean to gain a doctorate in South Korea, Lee Ae-ran, the first North Korean woman to earn a PhD in the South, Jung Sung-san, producer of the musical "Yodok Stories" about the horrors of North Korean prison camps, and former Chosun Ilbo reporter Kang Chol-hwan.

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