A People’s Army
Publication Date—Mar 15, 2012
In the distant future, on an ice-bound world, Choi Chung Ho is a loyal soldier in the Dear Leader’s army. Stuck in a damaged tank with the American advance quickly approaching, he must find a way to survive. Survive the Americans, the blindly patriotic members of his own crew, and, most dangerous of all, the shifting politics of the North Korean military.
Word Count ~ 7,400
Of the crew, only Choi Chung Ho had risked the pilgrimage to Mount Paektu (the real one, on Earth) and had seen the snows of winter and stood in the very same spots as the first Dear Leader, imagining what it must have been like to fight the Japanese and then the Americans. Those wars had happened centuries ago. And the First Leader’s son had been born of the mountain—out of rock. Nobody really believed the legend but everyone pretended they did and Choi had pretended for so long that he’d almost convinced himself that if the Dear Leader had tried hard enough, maybe he could have pulled a baby from Paektu’s granite. Believing, or almost believing, was important. It had made him cry real tears when Kim Il Sung 57 died, and Choi would cry when 58 died too; but in his honest moments, alone, he admitted only to himself that it was because not crying invited a visit from State Security, questions, and maybe a trip to the camps. Everyone hated Kim Il Sung 58. The legends said that the new Kims weren’t clones, that it was all one man, immortal and resurrected from his palace tomb in the midst of nuclear flames, over and over and over. And this was true because they said it was true, and so one believed because to disbelieve was the real insanity, a form of suicide. He reminded himself that it didn’t matter. Not in this place. Paektu San was in South Korean hands, Choi’s ancestors had been exiled long ago for refusing unification, and the Dear Leader’s new palace on Paegam-737 was far from Earth and thousands of light-years away from this hellhole. Besides, at this moment there were other things to worry about.