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Graphic Literature

Blizzard in the Jungle

By Ri Chol-Geun & Jo Hak-Rae
Translated from Korean by Heinz Insu Fenkl & Geesu Lee
GRAPHIC NOVEL

STORY JO HAK - RAE ART RI CHOL - GEUN

BLIZZARDJUNGUS THE GOLD STAR CHILDREN'S PRESS JUCHE 90 ( 2001 ) TRANSLATED BY HEINZ INSU FENKL & GEESU LEE
OUR STORY BEGINS MANY YEARS AGO , AT AN AIRPORT IN A COUNTRY IN AFRICA ...

[Frame]
GOOD - BYE !

SEONG - CHEOL & YEONG - HWAN: TILL WE MEET AGAIN

SEONG - CHEOL KIM

YEONG - HWAN KIM

[Frame]
WE APPRECIATE YOUR HARD WORK ! GOOD - BYE !

[Frame]
{HONK! HONK!}
{SCREEECH !}

[Frame]
SPECIAL FORCES GENERAL

Person 1: SO MANY LIVES WERE SAVED BECAUSE OF THEIR GENEROSITY AND THEIR MEDICAL EXPERTISE .

Person 2: TRULY , THEY ARE PEOPLE WE WILL NEVER FORGET .
Flight 47 From K City Departed on Schedule for C City
MAFIA HQ

Montero: THE PLANE'S APPROACHING DEVIL'S MOUNTAIN , BOSS .

MAFIA BOSS: HOW MANY MINUTES ? AND WHERE'S IT GONNA CRASH ?

MONTERO , MAFIA CHIEF STRATEGIST: ABOUT THIRTEEN MINUTES FROM NOW , WHEN IT REACHES THIS PLACE CALLED DEVIL'S MOUNTAIN , I'VE ARRANGED FOR THE ENGINE TO MALFUNCTION .
People in Plane: WOW , IT'S REALLY AWFUL DOWN THERE .

People in Plane: I HEARD THAT NO ONE'S EVER MADE IT OUT OF THAT JUNGLE ALIVE .

People in Plane: IT'S TOO QUIET . YOU'RE SO GOD DAMNED NOSY .

People in Plane: ARGH ! MAYDAY ! MAYDAY ! OUR ENGINES ARE OUT ! AH ! OUR RADIO'S NOT WORKING , EITHER !
People in Plane: EEEK !

Man on Plane: EMERGENCY ! GET BACK IN YOUR SEATS !

{KABOOM !}

Mafia worker: HEY , BOSS ! THAT AIRPLANE YOU WERE ASKING ABOUT- FLIGHT 47 FINALLY CRASHED .
MAFIA BOSS: ALL RIGHT , YOU GET STARTED IMMEDIATELY !

MONTERO: I KNOW , BOSS . I WON'T LET YOU DOWN .

MAFIA BOSS: MONTERO , YOU GET YOUR HANDS ON THE BRIEF CASE THAT HAS THOSE DOCUMENTS IN IT .

Air control tower: FLIGHT 47 OUT OF K CITY HAS GONE DOWN IN THE WILDERNESS AROUND DEVIL'S MOUNTAIN . DISPATCH RESCUE TEAMS !

Helicopter workers: THERE IS NO INITIAL SIGN OF SURVIVORS .... WE ARE CONTINUING OUR SEARCH .
MONTERO: WE HAVE TO FIND THE SURVIVORS FIRST BEFORE THE SEARCH PARTY GETS TO THEM . IS EVERYBODY CLEAR ON THAT ?

Man: DON'T WORRY . FINDING THEM OUT HERE'S LIKE LOOKING FOR A NEEDLE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE OCEAN .

Helicopter workers: STILL NO SIGN OF THE WRECKAGE .... WE WILL CONTINUE WITH THE SEARCH .
Airplane survivor: COMRADE YEONG - HWAN , COMRADE ! YOU'VE GOT TO WAKE UP .....
Airplane survivor: HMMM .... THIS HEAD INJURY LOOKS LIKE IT COULD BE PRETTY SERIOUS ....

YEOUN - HWAN: SEUNG - CHOL ! YOU'RE ALL RIGHT !

SEUNG - CHOL: YEOUN - HWAN ! I'M SO GLAD YOU'RE OK . WE SURVIVED !


YEOUN - HWAN: ARE YOU INJURED ANYWHERE ?

SEUNG - CHOL: I THOUGHT MY HEART WOULD GIVE OUT FOR A MOMENT , BUT I'M ALL RIGHT NOW .

YEOUN - HWAN: I THINK WE WERE REALLY LUCKY .

YEOUN - HWAN:LET'S FIND EVERYONE AND TAKE CARE OF THE EMERGENCY AS WE WERE TRAINED .

SEUNG - CHOL: OK ...
FATHER KEN SAWYER: HEAVENLY FATHER , IN THE NAME OF YOUR ONLY BEGOTTEN SON , JESUS CHRIST , I HUMBLY RESIGN MY SOUL TO YOUR ....

I WON'T LET YOU GIVE UP SO EASILY , SIR .

SEUNG - CHOL: WAKE UP , SIR !

FATHER KEN SAWYER: PLEASE ! LEAVE ME ALONE . LET ME MEET MY MAKER IN PEACE .

SEUNG - CHOL: MISS , ARE YOU AWAKE ?

XENA , ASSISTANT TO THE BOTANIST DR . ZACHARIAS: HUH ? WHO ARE YOU ? PLEASE DON'T HURT ME !


SEUNG - CHOL: I WON'T HURT YOU . I'M A DOCTOR .
XENA: W - WHAT HAPPENED ? WHERE'S DOCTOR ZACHARIAS ? WHERE'S THE COLLECTION OF BOTANICAL SPECIMENS ?

SEUNG - CHOL: DON'T WORRY . WE'LL FIND THEM .

MASSARIO: ARE THE TWO OF YOU ALL RIGHT ?

HUAMBO: YEAH , WE'RE OKAY , MISTER .

SEUNG - CHOL: COMRADE YEONG - HWAN ! I THINK I JUST SAW SOMEONE CRAWLING OVER THERE .
SIR , ARE YOU CONSCIOUS ? OPEN YOUR EYES .

MILITARY MAN: AHH ...

MILITARY MAN: AHH ..... YOU'RE FROM JOSEON . I CAN'T TELL YOU HOW LUCKY I AM TO MEET YOU NOW .

SIR , YOU ARE A MILITARY MAN . YOU HAVE THE TRAINING TO LEAD US OUT OF HERE ALIVE .

MILITARY MAN: I'M SORRY .... IT'S TOO LATE FOR ME .
LOOK , THE AIRPLANE DID NOT CRASH BECAUSE OF MECHANICAL FAILURE . IT WASN'T AN ACCIDENT . THE MAFIA PLANNED THIS . THEY SABOTAGED THE PLANE .
YEOUN - HWAN: WHAT !! ?

MILITARY MAN: THEY'RE PROBABLY AFTER THE CONTENTS OF THIS CASE , TOP SECRET DOCUMENTS .

MILITARY MAN: YOU ARE FOLLOWERS OF THE JUCHE PHILOSOPHY , SO I CAN PUT MY TRUST IN YOU .
PLEASE ... PROMISE ME .... THAT YOU WILL NOT LET THEM GET THEIR HANDS ON THESE DOCUMENTS ....

YEOUN - HWAN: WE PROMISE ! AND WE WILL SEE TO IT THAT THOSE CRIMINALS ARE PUNISHED !
MONTERO: COME ON ! HURRY UP ! WE'VE GOT TO FIND THEM BEFORE SUNSET !

LINCOLN: HERE ! DOWN HERE !

YEOUN - HWAN: LISTEN , EVERYONE , THE PLANE WAS SABOTAGED . I THINK THE MAFIA MAY BE AFTER US .

LINCOLN: AND THE RESCUE CHOPPER DIDN'T EVEN SEE US !

GOD DAMN .... NO WAY WE'RE GONNA MAKE IT NOW .
YEOUN - HWAN: IF WE STAY HERE LIKE THIS WAITING TO BE RESCUED , THE MAFIA WILL BE SURE TO FIND US .

FATHER KEN SAWYER: IF THAT IS THE FATE GOD HAS DECREED FOR ME , THEN I WILL OBEY HIM .

XENA: IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT WE DO . WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE OUT HERE ANYWAY !

DR . ZACHARIAS , BOTANIST: XENA !

DR . ZACHARIAS: WE ARE HUMANS , THE EPITOME OF THE EVOLUTIONARY PROCESS . WE CANNOT SIMPLY RESIGN OURSELVES TO DEATH !
YOU'RE RIGHT !

WE MUST AT LEAST GIVE IT A SHOT !

LOOK , WE'RE ALL INDEPENDENT ADULTS . I SAY IT SHOULD BE EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF .

WHAT WE DO IS OUR OWN BUSINESS .

XENA: WE HAVE INJURED PEOPLE ! HOW CAN YOU GO OFF ON YOUR OWN ?

FATHER KEN SAWYER: YOU ARE BEING SELFISH !

YEOUN - HWAN: DO YOU THINK YOU'LL SURVIVE IF THE MAFIA CATCHES YOU ?
LINCOLN: HA ! THE MAFIA WOULDN'T DARE KILL A WHITE MAN .

WE'LL DO WHATEVER THE HELL WE WANT .

YEOUN - HWAN: IF THAT'S WHAT YOU DECIDE , WE WON'T STOP YOU . THE TWO OF YOU CAN GO AHEAD ON YOUR OWN . WE'LL CATCH UP TO YOU LATER .

GOOD . YOU GET IT , THEN . LET'S GO , LINCOLN .

LINCOLN: YEAH , COME ON .

IF WE FOLLOW THE RIVER , IT SHOULD TAKE US TO A VILLAGE OR SOMETHING .

LINCOLN: YEAH , I SAW THAT IN A MOVIE ONCE !
DR . ZACHARIAS: SINCE YOU'RE A DOCTOR FROM JOSEON , I WANT TO HEAR WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY .

YES , PLEASE TELL US .

YEOUN - HWAN: THE COLOR OF OUR SKINS IS DIFFERENT . WE ARE ALL MEMBERS OF DIFFERENT RELIGIONS . WE ARE OF DIFFERENT RACES ..
... BUT WE ALL HAVE ONE THING IN COMMON . WE ARE JOINED TOGETHER BY OUR COMMON NEED TO SURVIVE , BECAUSE IWE WANT TO BE ABLE TO RETURN TO OUR FAMILIES AND LOVED ONES .
SO IT'S ESSENTIAL THAT WE WORK TOGETHER . WE MUST COMBINE OUR STRENGTH AND BE SINGLE MINDED IN OUR COOPERATION .
SPLITTING UP TO PURSUE OUR INDIVIDUAL GOALS WOULD ONLY LEAD TO OUR DESTRUCTION .
SPORTS logo on track suit of plane wreck survivor)

WE NEED A LEADER . I PROPOSE WE ELECT SOMEONE AND THEN OBEY HIS INSTRUCTIONS . wow .

YES , I AGREE !

I THINK THAT'S A GREAT IDEA .

I NOMINATE THIS DOCTOR FROM JOSEON TO BE OUR LEADER .

I AGREE !

I AGREE ALSO !

YEOUN - HWAN: THANK YOU ALL FOR ELECTING ME . NOW THAT I AM YOUR LEADER , YOU MUST LISTEN CAREFULLY TO WHAT I TELL YOU .
WE MUST GET AWAY FROM HERE IMMEDIATELY , WITHOUT LEAVING ANY TRACE THAT WE WERE HERE .
YEOUN - HWAN: MASSARIO AND HUAMBO -- THE TWO OF YOU WILL NEED TO CONSTRUCT A STRETCHER SO WE CAN CARRY DR . ZACHARIAS FROM HERE .

MASSARIO AND HUAMBO: YES , SIR !

YEOUN - HWAN: YOU WILL NEED TO HURRY .

YEOUN - HWAN: KUNEN AND COMRADE SEONG - CHOL- YOU TWO TAKE CARE OF FATHER SAWYER .

KUNEN AND COMRADE SEONG - CHOL: JAWOHL !

YEOUN - HWAN: I KNOW THE TWO AMERICANS WENT DOWNHILL , INTO THE VALLEY , BUT THEY ARE MISTAKEN . WE MUST GO UPHILL , TOWARD THE TOP OF THIS MOUNTAIN .
LET'S GET STARTED !
THE EMBASSY OF THE DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF KOREA

I WANT TO TELL YOU , ON BEHALF OF MY GOVERNMENT , THAT WE ARE DOING EVERYTHING WE POSSIBLY CAN TO FIND AND RESCUE THE TWO DOCTORS FROM JOSEON WHO ARE MISSING IN THE PLANE CRASH .


AT OUR SPECIAL FORCES HEAD QUARTERS , THEY WERE GETTING READY TO MOBILIZE A SECRET OPERATION CALLED " OPERATION TYPHOON TO ROOT OUT THE MAFIA WHO ARE HIDING OUT IN THE AREA AROUND DEVIL'S MOUNTAIN .

BUT THERE MUST HAVE BEEN SOME SORT OF LEAK . I'M AFRAID THE MAFIA ARE ONTO US . THEY KNOW ABOUT THE PLAN .

AND NOW THEY ARE LOOKING FOR A BRIEFCASE THAT CONTAINS THE TOP SECRET DOCUMENTS . IS THAT CORRECT ?

THAT IS CORRECT .
IF THE DOCUMENTS GET INTO THE HANDS OF THE MAFIA , WE WILL BE FORCED TO STOP THE MOVE MENT OF LARGE NUMBERS OF SOLDIERS AND EQUIPMENT .

I AM SORRY TO HAVE TO TELL YOU THAT NO ONE HAS EVER COME OUT OF THAT JUNGLE ALIVE .

I DON'T UNDERSTAND ...

WE HAVE A SAYING : " YOU MUST OVERCOME THE THREE DEVILS THE JUNGLE DEVIL , THE BEAST DEVIL , AND THE MAFIA DEVIL TO SURVIVE ON DEVIL'S MOUNTAIN . "

MY PEOPLE WILL SURVIVE NO MATTER HOW FIERCE THOSE DEVILS OF YOUR ARE .

I'M AFRAID THAT WOULD TAKE A MIRACLE .

MY COMRADES , WHAT IS HAPPENING TO YOU ? PEOPLE BACK HOME ARE WAITING TO HEAR ABOUT YOU .
MONTERO: FIND THE OFFICER WHO'S WEARING THE MILITARY UNIFORM . WHAT WE WANT IS IN HIS BRIEFCASE

SIR , WE FOUND A BODY , BUT THERE'S NO BRIEFCASE , NO BAG , NOTHING .

MONTERO: WHAT !?

I THINK I FOUND SOME TRACKS . THEY HEADED UP THE MOUNTAIN .

MONTERO: THERE'S ONLY ONE WAY OUT OF HERE , YOU IDIOT ! THE TRACKS GO THIS WAY , DOWN TOWARD THE RIVER .
MONTERO: SEARCH THIS AREA WITH A FINE - TOOTH COMB . THE ONE WHO FINDS THEM WILL BE HANDSOMELY REWARDED . NOW GET STARTED !

YES , SIR !

MONTERO: HEY ! I SAID SEARCH THIS WAY , DOWN TOWARD THE RIVER !

AT APPROXIMATELY 4:30 PM . TODAY , FLIGHT 47 , ON ITS REGULAR FLIGHT ROUTE , CRASHED IN THE JUNGLE AROUND DEVIL'S MOUNTAIN . THE CAUSE OF THE CRASH IS NOT KNOWN AT THIS TIME . THE AIRLINE IS CURRENTLY CONDUCTING A RESCUE OPERATION FOR ANY POTENTIAL SURVIVORS ...

45 PASSENGERS LOST ! TWO FAMOUS DOCTORS FROM JOSEON ON LIST .

DOCUMENTS SPOTTED BY MAFIA
IF THERE ARE SURVIVORS , WHICH WOULD BE MORE MIRACULOUS ? THEIR SURVIVING THE AIRPLANE CRASH , OR THEIR GETTING OUT OF THE JUNGLE ALIVE ?

YEOUN - HWAN: I KNOW IT'S HARD , BUT PLEASE MOVE AS QUICKLY AS YOU CAN .

THANK YOU ...

WHY ARE WE GOING UP THE MOUNTAIN ? IS THIS THE WAY TO HEAVEN OR SOMETHING ?

I DON'T GET IT , EITHER . WHY ARE WE GOING UP ?
WHAT ARE YOU COMPLAINING ABOUT , HUH ?

YEAH ! YOU VOTED TO MAKE HIM OUR LEADER , SO YOU SHOULD TRUST HIM AND FOLLOW HIS ORDERS !

TAKE IT EASY , YOU TWO . SAVE YOUR ENERGY . WE'LL NEED PLENTY OF IT LATER .

I DON'T WANT TO BE A BURDEN TO YOU . IF IT IS GOD'S WILL , JUST PUT ME DOWN AND LET ME DIE HERE .

I'M SORRY , BUT I CANNOT LET YOU GIVE UP SO EASILY .

Since the ideology and values conveyed in children’s books tend to be relatively transparent in all cultures, I hope this excerpt from Blizzard in the Jungle gives a useful glimpse into the self-representation of a country we little understand. Blizzard in the Jungle is set in an unnamed African country—something that may come as a surprise for many American readers who think of the DPRK as a fortress nation entirely cut off from the rest of the world. The two heroes of Blizzard in the Jungle are North Korean doctors whose surnames are both Kim, making them stand-ins for Kim Il-sung (the Great Leader) and his son, Kim Jong-il (the Dear Leader). They are cast as the rescuers of a multiracial group that elects one of the Kims as their leader for his virtuous qualities. He directs them in what appears to be a doomed endeavor, going contrary to the apparent common sense of thee Americans in the group. (In the end, this strategy—symbolic of ascending Norrth Korea’s Mt. Paekdu, the mythic birthplace of their leader—turns out to be the better plan, and the selfish Americans meet an appropriately gruesome fate.) In the course of the following excerpt, which is about 25% of the entire story, the hero has occasion to repeat kernels of North Korean wisdom and strike several poses that mirror those of Kim Il-sung found on statues and in paintings familiar to all North Koreans. North Koreans are characterized as the wise, open-minded, benevolent saviors of a people oppressed by the “Mafia.”

Actually, the fact that North Koreans are writing politically-charged comics set in Africa should come as no surprise. Less than a decade ago, North Korea supplied the Kabila regime of the Democratic Republic of Congo with troops and advisors during the civil war in exchange for access to Congolese uranium mines, the very same mines that had provided uranium for the first American atomic bomb. In the 1980s, North Koreans trained Zimbabwe’s Fifth Brigade, which was responsible for massacres in Matabeleland. North Korean military advisors have also been very active in Angola, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Ethiopia, and Uganda where they have run training camps and overseen the use of heavy weapons (such as tanks) imported from the DPRK. North Korea represents itself as fulfilling a mission to aid burgeoning nations in distress, while they are one of the major arms dealers in the world and want to be first in line to exploit these countries’ resources.

Many Americans well understand the stereotypes of North Korea. We certainly see enough of them, particularly after the carefully orchestrated PR of the recent New York Philharmonic performance in Pyongyang. With the multi-billion dollar joint industrial complex in Kaesong on the verge of opening, only an hour and a half drive from Seoul, and North Korea poised to be one of the cheapest skilled labor pools in the world, we will be seeing much more of North Korea in the news in the near future and perhaps trading with them sooner than we think.

Blizzard in the Jungle was published in 2001, so the presence of a character named Zacharias on board an airplane downed by terrorists is probably just coincidental with the Zacarias Moussaoui of the 9/11 attack (although “Flight 47” adding up to 11 and the 45 lost passengers adding up to 9 makes one wonder, given that the North Koreans put the date before the month). The airplane downed by the “Mafia” is actually an ironic detail, since it was North Korea that was responsible for the bombing of a Korean Airlines flight in November of 1987 that killed 115 people.

English

Since the ideology and values conveyed in children’s books tend to be relatively transparent in all cultures, I hope this excerpt from Blizzard in the Jungle gives a useful glimpse into the self-representation of a country we little understand. Blizzard in the Jungle is set in an unnamed African country—something that may come as a surprise for many American readers who think of the DPRK as a fortress nation entirely cut off from the rest of the world. The two heroes of Blizzard in the Jungle are North Korean doctors whose surnames are both Kim, making them stand-ins for Kim Il-sung (the Great Leader) and his son, Kim Jong-il (the Dear Leader). They are cast as the rescuers of a multiracial group that elects one of the Kims as their leader for his virtuous qualities. He directs them in what appears to be a doomed endeavor, going contrary to the apparent common sense of thee Americans in the group. (In the end, this strategy—symbolic of ascending Norrth Korea’s Mt. Paekdu, the mythic birthplace of their leader—turns out to be the better plan, and the selfish Americans meet an appropriately gruesome fate.) In the course of the following excerpt, which is about 25% of the entire story, the hero has occasion to repeat kernels of North Korean wisdom and strike several poses that mirror those of Kim Il-sung found on statues and in paintings familiar to all North Koreans. North Koreans are characterized as the wise, open-minded, benevolent saviors of a people oppressed by the “Mafia.”

Actually, the fact that North Koreans are writing politically-charged comics set in Africa should come as no surprise. Less than a decade ago, North Korea supplied the Kabila regime of the Democratic Republic of Congo with troops and advisors during the civil war in exchange for access to Congolese uranium mines, the very same mines that had provided uranium for the first American atomic bomb. In the 1980s, North Koreans trained Zimbabwe’s Fifth Brigade, which was responsible for massacres in Matabeleland. North Korean military advisors have also been very active in Angola, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Ethiopia, and Uganda where they have run training camps and overseen the use of heavy weapons (such as tanks) imported from the DPRK. North Korea represents itself as fulfilling a mission to aid burgeoning nations in distress, while they are one of the major arms dealers in the world and want to be first in line to exploit these countries’ resources.

Many Americans well understand the stereotypes of North Korea. We certainly see enough of them, particularly after the carefully orchestrated PR of the recent New York Philharmonic performance in Pyongyang. With the multi-billion dollar joint industrial complex in Kaesong on the verge of opening, only an hour and a half drive from Seoul, and North Korea poised to be one of the cheapest skilled labor pools in the world, we will be seeing much more of North Korea in the news in the near future and perhaps trading with them sooner than we think.

Blizzard in the Jungle was published in 2001, so the presence of a character named Zacharias on board an airplane downed by terrorists is probably just coincidental with the Zacarias Moussaoui of the 9/11 attack (although “Flight 47” adding up to 11 and the 45 lost passengers adding up to 9 makes one wonder, given that the North Koreans put the date before the month). The airplane downed by the “Mafia” is actually an ironic detail, since it was North Korea that was responsible for the bombing of a Korean Airlines flight in November of 1987 that killed 115 people.

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