Scarlett O'Hara Debuts in North

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Scarlett O'Hara Debuts in North

Western literary works are now being published in North Korea.

"I saw Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone With the Wind' published in three volumes by the North Korean Literature and Art General Publishing Company at a bookstore in North Korea," said a historian who recently visited the North. "Since the publisher printed 10,000 copies, it seems that citizens who are interested in literature can easily read the book," he added.

Until now, North Korea published translated Western literary works only to accommodate its professional writers in order to enhance their ability. About 100 copies were printed for each translated piece and provided to the writers privately. Therefore, it is an extraordinary event that the North has published Western literature for its citizens.

In the mid-1980s, Kim Jong-il, then the general secretary of the Workers' Party, ordered the publication of 100 world literature masterpieces. Novels and poetry published in the North include "Les Miserables" by Victor Hugo, "Tess of the D'Urbervilles" by Thomas Hardy and "La Condition Humaine" by Andre Malraux. It was only in the late 1990s that the North Korean government allowed publishing companies to print copies for general readers.

Pyongyang Times, an English language newspaper in Pyongyang, announced that the North Korean Literature and Art General Publishing Company recently published 50 Western literary works, including novels by British and Soviet authors. The newspaper reported that world masterpieces written from 1900 to 1960, including "Jean-Christophe" by Romain Rolland, "For Whom the Bell Tolls" by Ernest Hemingway and "An American Tragedy" by Theodore Dreiser, would be published for general readers.

"The North Korean government has begun to lift the ban on the publication of the classics of the Western world. It can be interpreted as a signal to increase cultural contact with the world selectively," said a North Korea expert.

by Jung Chang-hyun

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