If ever a book is going to make you uneasy, this is it. These stories are about how people fail to survive under the North Korean government. Fear is the dominant theme, because falling foul of the government means banishment, imprisonment or death. This is a regime that does not compromise with its opponents. Guaranteed to bring you out in a cold sweat.
The next morning, Yeung-il received a phone call saying that Yong-su had had an accident, and ran straight over to the house. More than the stiff limbs and shuttered eyes of his uncle, who must have died the night before, alone in the empty house, what startled Yeung-il was the body of the elm, lying splayed out in the center of the yard, having been hacked in two near the base of its trunk. The repeated blows had been delivered with such force, such frenzy, that there were tiny white chips of wood speckling even the stable roof. Steppiing through the side door into the crowded kitchen, Yeong-ill saw a block of elmwood burning in the fireplace, making a sound like the snickering of false laughter.