North Korea: Threat or Bluster? — at Asia House

On paper, this looks rather an odd talk to have at a literature festival: the controversial journalist John Sweeney who accompanied some LSE students on a tour to North Korea in 2013; and the China and North Korea specialist Paul French, who gave a very interesting talk on foreign investment in North Korean industry at SOAS in 2008. The official blurb for the event doesn’t mention literature at all, let alone North Korean literature. So here’s some recommended reading: Sonia Ryang’s fascinating Reading North Korea.

Update, 3 May 2014: John Everard, author of Only Beautiful Please, will be replacing John Sweeney as speaker.

North Korea – Threat or Bluster?

Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival
Asia House | 63 New Cavendish St | London W1G 7LP | asiahouse.org
7 May, 6:45pm £10 Book tickets

North Korea new collage

John Sweeney – North Korea Undercover
John Everard – Only Beautiful, Please: A British Diplomat in North Korea
Paul French – North Korea – State of Paranoia
With Charles Scanlon – BBC’s East Asia Editor

North Korea is a country that continues to make headlines – arousing curiosity and fear in equal measure. Award-winning BBC journalist Sweeney and East Asia expert French share their experiences in the country and address important questions about its uncertain future.

John Sweeney is an award winning investigative journalist with BBC Panorama. Previous to joining BBC, worked at The Observer, where he covered wars and revolutions and unrest in more than sixty countries from Algeria, Bosnia, Chechnya to Zimbabwe. He is the author of eight books, including The Church of Fear – Inside The Weird World of Scientology.

John Everard was the British Ambassador in North Korea from 2006 to 2008. While there he dealt with issues such as the 2006 missile and nuclear tests, North Korea’s food shortages, economic problems, and its complex politics. From 2010-11 he was a Pantech Fellow at Stanford University’s Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Reseach Centre, where he conducted research and participated in major international conferences on North Korea. From 2011-12 he was coordinator of the UN Panel of Experts on sanctions against North Korea. His distinguished career with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office covered 30 years, spanned four continents, and included other politically sensitive posts such as Ambassador to Belarus and Ambassador to Uruguay. His experiences in North Korea are chronicled in his book Only Beautiful, Please: A British Diplomat in North Korea.

Paul French has lived and worked in China for many years. He is a widely published analyst and commentator, contributing to the China Economic Review, the East Asia Forum Quarterly, Foreign Policy, the Asian Wall Street Journal and other publications. He is the author of Midnight in Peking and the series editor of Zed Books’ Asian Arguments series and the Royal Asiatic Society-Hong Kong University Press China Monographs.

They will be speaking to Charles Scanlon, BBC’s East Asia Editor. He was BBC Korea correspondent from 1994-97 and Japan and Korea correspondent from 2000-07.

We regret that John Sweeney will not be able to join the panel, due to unforeseen professional commitments outside of the UK. We are delighted to welcome former Ambassador to North Korea, John Everard to contribute to the discussion.

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