A Kafkaesque Spy Thriller Straddles Two Koreas, NPR Fresh Air


When I was growing up, there was no more famous symbol of the Cold War than the Berlin Wall. But in fact, the Wall could never really compare to the demilitarized zone that divides North and South Korea. Still going strong after 57 years, it has created a parallel reality worthy of Philip K. Dick.


By now, most people know that North Korea may the strangest country on Earth — an Orwellian dystopia complete with starving citizens, nuclear weapons, a goofball dictator, and public displays seemingly choreographed by Busby Berkeley. But in the West, it’s less well-known that South Korea is a booming modern democracy with an infrastructure more advanced than our own. It’s also an outward-looking cultural player. Even as South Korea’s TV soaps dominate Asia, it also boasts one of the world’s most exciting movie cultures — it had five films at Cannes last May.


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