Tae Yong-ho says he was 14 when he first began to comprehend the true cruelty of the songbun, Kim Il-sung’s class system.

It was August 1976, and the Great Leader was expelling people whose loyalty might not be guaranteed. Tae’s parents, members of the “core class”, were safe. His aunt, uncle and two cousins, members of the “wavering class” because of suspected links to Japanese collaborators, were ordered out of Pyongyang. Tae watched as his mother and aunt wept. “We were just one family at the time, every night we ate together,” he says. “I asked my mother, why?”..

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