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Historiography and the Remaking of North Korea’s Ideology in the Age of Globalization

News of the first SOAS Friday evening seminar of the summer term:

Friday, May 14th, 5pm, room B102 (Brunei Gallery, opposite SOAS main building)
Professor Youngsoo Yook (Leiden University/Academy of Korean Studies)
Historiography and the Remaking of North Korea’s Ideology in the Age of Globalization – Interpreting the Revised Edition of Dictionary of History

Speaker Bio: Professor Youngsoo Yook (Leiden University/Academy of Korean Studies)
Holding a Ph.D. from the University of Washington, Youngsoo YOOK is a professor in the History Department and in the Cultural Studies of Graduate School at Chung-Ang University in Seoul and currently a visiting professor sponsored by AKS at Leiden University (the Netherlands) and Leuven Catholic University (Belgium). Trained in the field of Modern European Intellectual History and in Korean History as a minor, he is recently more interested in reinterpreting modern Korean history from comparative and global perspectives. His published articles (all in Korean) include “How North Korea ‘Appropriated’ Western History in the Cold War Era―A Case of Dictionary of History, (1971),” “A History Undisclosed or A Mirror Unpolished―Contouring a Historiographical Topography of North Korea’s Western Historical Studies, 1955-2005,” “The Cultural Turn in Historical Studies: Western Origins and Korean Appropriation,” “Memory, Trauma, and Psychoanalysis: Dominick LaCapra and Theory of Holocaust,” and “Dose Press Culture Drive History?―The Case of Darnton Thesis and Darnton Debate.” The author is now conducting a research on “Fin de Siècle Korea as Exhibited at the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 and the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1900: Revisited.”

Historiography and the Remaking of North Korea’s Ideology in the Age of Globalization―Interpreting the Revised Edition of Dictionary of History: Abstract
This paper intends to reappraise the relationship between historiography and politics in North Korea by analyzing the revised edition of Ryeoksa sajeon (Dictionary of History). Published almost 30 years after its initial publication in 1971, the new edition embodies how desperately and earnestly North Korea has struggled to remake its own imagery and national identity in order to cope with a series of crisis after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the death of Kim Il Sung in 1994. Are the two core ideologies penetrating the first edition—socialism founded on Marxism-Leninism and strong antipathy to U.S. imperialism—still unconditionally respected in the revised edition? Does the appearance of the revised edition indicate an important ideological transformation taking place among the ruling elite of North Korea? And, would rewriting history guarantee a safer and more promising future for the North Korean people in the age of globalization? These are questions that the author raises and attempts to answer.

All Welcome

One thought on “Historiography and the Remaking of North Korea’s Ideology in the Age of Globalization

  1. The lecturer was so excited by his subject that he didn’t really convey much information. The first edition (1971) of North Korea’s Historical Dictionary has the usual cranky beastliness about the usual suspects. The second edition (finished 2004) is slightly less beastly. It avoids attacking living US ex-presidents, and isn’t TOO horrible about European countries who have diplomatic relations with them. That excludes the French. Russians are now not so favoured.

    The changes possibly suggest a greater willingness to engage with the rest of the world.

    It was not clear who the intended audience for this dictionary is, but given the length of time it takes to prepare the dictionary the presumption is that it reflects the party line.

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