Conference news: Writing North Korean social history, at SOAS, 11 Sept

by Events Editor on 18 August, 2015 updated 28 May, 2017

in DPRK | Event Notices | Talks and seminars

Registration is now open for a one-day conference at SOAS on Friday 11 Sept, hosted in collaboration with the British Association for Korean Studies. I’m always amazed that these conferences are available to the public for so little outlay. Come along, and then let your hair down with punk band No Brain later that evening.

Writing North Korean Social History

A one-day workshop on new developments in North Korean history
11 September 2015, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
SOAS Russell Square: College Buildings, Room L67


A family moving into a newly built, modern flat in Pyongyang, 1958

A family moving into a newly built, modern flat in Pyongyang, 1958

Despite the ever-growing popular fascination with North Korea, general understanding of the country and its history is advancing much more slowly. At times it seems like a country without a history. A country where the society, from top to bottom, is inscrutable to historical knowledge. The outline of North Korea’s political history is fairly well known and numerous books chart the rise of Kim Il Sung and the establishment of North Korea’s monolithic political-ideological system. But beyond this our understanding of the country’s history is obscured both by the DPRK state with its near total control of information about North Korea and substantial capacity for historical mythmaking, and by the preconceptions and narrow concerns of media and academia in the English-speaking world. This is reflected most sharply in a dearth of English-language works on the social history of North Korea.

Fortunately this situation has begun to change in recent years with the publication of books by Charles Armstrong and Suzy Kim, focusing mainly on the earliest period of North Korean history (1945-1950) and with new Korean-language work such as that of Sunghoon Han, focusing on the Korean War and the 1950s. This workshop will seek to bring together a number of scholars from around the world working on new social histories of North Korea as a way of further developing this new field of research.

Confirmed speakers

  • Sunghoon Han, Yonsei University
  • Suzy Kim, Rutgers University: Historicizing North Korea: Socialist Modernity, Everyday Life, and Intimate Archives
  • Cheehyung Harrison Kim, University of Missouri: Surplus and Solidarity: Migration of North Korea’s War Orphans
  • Andre Schmid, University of Toronto: Towards a Social History of (Self) – Criticism and Class in Postwar North Korea
  • Carl A. Young, University of Western Ontario: The Friendly Party: The Ch’ondogyo Young Friends Party in Early North Korea
  • Adam Cathcart, University of Leeds: Neighbor, Perpetrator: Sinchon and Transborder Violence in South Hwanghae Province, 1945-1950
  • Owen Miller, SOAS, University of London


  • Koen de Ceuster, University of Leiden
  • Vladimir Tikhonov, University of Oslo


  • £10 full time students
  • £15 standard
  • Free for SOAS students and BAKS members.

All participants need to register. This is a non-profit event. The ticket price includes entrance to the workshop, refreshments and a sandwich lunch. Registration via the official SOAS conference announcement page.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

alua August 18, 2015 at 10:40 pm

It’s very cheap for an academic conference in general.

“Come along, and then let your hair down with punk band No Brain later that evening.”

*Lol* Philip, I'd like to see you let your hair down.

Philip Gowman August 18, 2015 at 10:44 pm

Just fill me up with enough soju 😉

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