Most Witness to Transformation readers probably couldn’t find Equatorial Guinea on the map. The corrupt petro-state probably made its biggest dent in the popular imagination (at least in the US) as the setting of Robert Klitgaard’s 1991 World Bank memoir Tropical Gangsters; it made a cameo appearance in Steve Coll’s Private Empire as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative drop-out that was too corrupt for Exxon.
The former Spanish colony became independent in 1968 under the leadership of Francisco Macías Nguema, who quickly turned it into an extremely repressive one-party state allied with the Eastern Bloc. Macias Nguema was deposed by his nephew Teodoro Obiang Nguema, tried, and executed in 1979. But in 1978, as the noose was tightening, Macias Nguema sent his daughter Monique and his son Francisco to Pyongyang under the care of Kim Il-sung. And indeed, Kim took a paternal interest in the soon-to-be-orphaned siblings until his death in 1994.
Monique Macias has now written a memoir, I’m Monique of Pyongyang. The book contains many photos, supposedly including one of Curtis Melvin, who first met her in 2004. The video below is an interview from Arirang Today in which Monique Macias discusses her life.