It’s not your usual musical, and I would not ordinarily call attention to a stage production I have not yet seen. But the subject is one of the most wildly under-reported stories of our time — the gulag of North Korea. Despite all we have heard of the depravities of Kim Jong Il’s murderous regime, the realities of North Korea’s monstrous system remain as a rule far removed from the world spotlight. Someday this system will shatter, the cameras will go in, and when that happens we will gaze in shock, listen with horror, and ask each other how the world could have let this happen.
Some intrepid souls keep trying to tell the world about North Korea now, in any way possible. And so, despite many obstacles, Yoduk Story, a musical set in a North Korean prison camp, is opening Wednesday, Oct. 4, just outside Washington. Check it out. … Some further background: Yoduk, sometimes transliterated as Yodok, is one of the many North Korean prison camps covered in a painstakingly documented report released in 2003, by the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea. With the press, human rights groups, or for that matter, just about everyone but the guards and inmates forbidden access, this gulag almost never makes the evening news. It should. Will Yoduk Story work as a musical? I don’t know. But anything that might help shine a light on North Korea’s gulag sure deserves a chance.