Pak Jun Do is the haunted son of a lost mother—a singer “stolen” to Pyongyang—and an influential father who runs a work camp for orphans. Superiors in the state soon recognize the boy’s loyalty and keen instincts. Considering himself “a humble citizen of the greatest nation in the world,” Jun Do rises in the ranks. He becomes a professional kidnapper who must navigate the shifting rules, arbitrary violence, and baffling demands of his Korean overlords in order to stay alive. Driven to the absolute limit of what any human being could endure, he boldly takes on the treacherous role of rival to Kim Jong Il in an attempt to save the woman he loves, Sun Moon, a legendary actress “so pure, she didn’t know what starving people looked like.”
The original title of the book is “The Orphan Master’s Son”
I chose to rename the title of the book to “Eigendom van de staat” – “Property of the state” because Kim Jong Il meets Sun Moon in a boxcar. She would sing Arirang to let her mother know that she was okay. That was the moment when Sun Moon got discovered by Dear Leader. Sun Moon is Kim Jong II’s favorite, no one could take her away from him.
The book consists of two parts. The first is a part of propaganda story about the good life in North Korea. The other part shows the real life in North Korea. The intention is to shape both parts in such a way that the difference is visible. All the left pages contain the propaganda story. These can be recognized by the many colorful pages. When you turn the book round, the other, contrasting part of North Korea is on the left side. Of course, the propaganda story can be found upside down on the right side.
By turning the book you can decided which side of the story you want to read.
Pak Jun Do takes on the identity of other people. He is: a kidnapper, a radio operator on the fishing boat and, when the Americans arrive he is the third sailor. At the end Pak Jun Do takes the identity of Commander Ga in order to stay alive. With every change of identity the pages in the book are burned. By partially burning away pages, you can see the next page through the burned places. And so a whole new story is created. The propaganda posters change and get a new identity.