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In 1993, writer and democracy activist Hwang Sok-yong was sentenced to five years in the Seoul Detention Center. Hwang’s imprisonment forced him to consider the many prisons to which he was subject—of thought, of writing, of Cold War nations, of the heart.
In this capacious memoir, Hwang moves between his imprisonment and his life—as a boy in Pyongyang, as a young activist protesting South Korea’s military dictatorships, as a soldier in the Vietnam War, as a dissident writer—and in so doing, narrates the dramatic revolutions and transformations of one life and of Korean society during the twentieth century.