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Monday 22 December  

The State We're In - I’m Outta Here!

On air: 8 September 2012 2:00 (Photo: Baloji)

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The State We're In, 8 September 2012. A propaganda poet from North Korea sees Kim Jong-il wearing elevator shoes then flees the country. A musician celebrates his Congolese roots. And a writer from Afghanistan who risked his life to liberalize his country now drives a cab in Canada.

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Jang Jin-sung
Jang Jin-sung
Kim's court poet - listen in new player

When Jang Jin-sung was selected to be the "court poet" by Kim Jong-il, he couldn’t believe he’d actually be working for a "god".

But when he met the supreme leader in person, he saw "god" wearing elevator shoes. 

Jang Jin-sung tells host Jonathan Groubert how he decided to flee the country into China and his hope of one day returning home to North Korea – which he believes will be soon. 

Listen to Jang Jin-sung recite his most famous poem "Selling My Daughter for 100 Won" (as voiced by TSWI editor Greg Kelly).

More: New Focus International - The truth about North Korea by North Koreans in exile.

Get it out - listen in new player

When Baloji was 3, his mother arranged to have him leave Congo to live in Belgium.

A few years later, his family lost everything in the conflicts raging in the eastern part of the country.

He’s never returned.

Now he creates music to express what he hasn’t been able to say to his mother he hasn’t seen for 25 years. 


Mir Mahdavi
Mir Mahdavi
Taxi poet - listen in new player

When TSWI interviewed Afghanistan journalist and writer Mir Mahdavi in 2009, he recounted how a last-minute reprieve saved him from being executed.

Editor Greg Kelly caught up with Mir at his home in Hamilton, Ontario, where he now drives a cab.

The job sometimes makes him feel dead. But it also allows him a lifeline... to poetry.

More: Mir’s blog Sun in Exile.


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