Deborah Smith, who translated a manuscript smuggled out of North Korea, discusses an interesting issue:
One question I’ve often been asked since I started learning Korean is: do the two halves of the peninsula speak the same language? The answer is yes and not quite. Yes, because division happened only in the previous century, which isn’t enough time for mutual unintelligibility to develop. Not quite, because it is enough time for those countries’ vastly different trajectories to impact on the language they use, most noticeably in the case of English loanwords – a veritable flood in the South, carefully dammed in the North. The biggest differences, though, are those of dialect, which have pronounced regional differences both between and within North and South. Unlike in the UK, a dialect doesn’t just mean a handful of region-specific words; conjunctions and sentence endings, for example, are pronounced and thus written differently. That’s a headache until you crack the code.
But while the original manuscript of The Accusation apparently contains around 200 words that the average South Korean would be unlikely to know, I was lucky to be working from a version that had already been edited for publication in South Korea. I also had a generous friend, Kyeong-soo, to consult in those few instances when even the internet drew a blank. Still, these blanks tended not to be drawn over anything to do with ideology, party rank or the apparatus of state. Rather the challenge was capturing details such as children playing on sorghum stilts – a specificity of a culture that is in danger of becoming shared only in memory, whose evocation reaches back to a time when north Korea meant simply the collection of provinces 100 miles up the country where the food was milder, the winters were colder, and where your aunt and uncle lived.
An interesting question, but frustratingly dealt with, in that she doesn’t give any examples; fortunately, Wikipedia comes to the rescue. (Thanks, Trevor!)