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SOAS roundtable discussion: After two summits, what has changed in US-DPRK relations?

A highly topical discussion at SOAS focuses on the 27 February Hanoi summit.

Spectacle or substance? After two summits what has changed in US-DPRK relations?

Dr James Hoare and Dr Geir Helgesen (Research Associates, SOAS Centre of Korean Studies)
Thursday 28 February 2019, 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
SOAS | Room: 4426 | College Buildings | Russell Square | Register via SOAS website


Only months ago the world faced a possible war and total catastrophe on the Korean Peninsula. In the media, worldwide, North Korea is depicted as a “Hermit Kingdom” almost totally isolated even now, in an era of globalisation. Nobody in the Western world cared to address or make contact with its leader, who was seen as the worst kind of dictator. Since the first meeting between the North Korean and South Korean leaders and a surprise summit between the US and North Korea in June 2018 in Singapore, the image of North Korea has changed. Due to the fact that its isolated dictator has also visited China and Russia, Kim Jong Un can be seen as the political leader of a country open for dialogue. Will this positive development continue? Is this a moment of grounded optimism? Or, is a return to square one a more likely outcome?

What can scholars in the field of Area Studies contribute to discussions at this stage? This roundtable discussion will start with short presentations, followed by an open Q&A session.

Speaker Biographies

Jim HoareJames Hoare, Research Associate, SOAS Centre of Korean Studies has a PhD in Japanese history from SOAS University of London. He has long been a member of the Anglo-Korean Society, the Korean Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society and President of the British Association of Korean Studies (BAKS) in 2006. James is a regular contributor to the UK and global media and participants in conferences, briefings and talks around the world. His latest book, published this year, is J E Hoare, Ed., Culture, Power and Politics in Treaty-Port Japan, 1854-1899. This two-volume collection, supported by an in-depth introduction that addresses origins, actuality, endgame and afterlife, brings together for the first time contemporary documentation and more recent scholarship to give a broad picture of Japan’s Treaty Ports and their inhabitants at work and play in the second half of the nineteenth century.

Geir HelgesenGeir Helgesen retired at the end of 2018 from the post as Director of NIAS, the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies and of the Fudan-European Centre for China Studies, University of Copenhagen. Helgesen has focused on Korean affairs since the early 1980s, with a special emphasis on the political cultures of the two systems on the Korean Peninsula. His main work on Korea is “Democracy and Authority in Korea. The Cultural Dimension in Korean Politics”. Curzon Press, Richmond and St. Martin’s Press New York 1998, and “Politics, Culture and Self. East Asian and North European Attitudes”, NIAS Press, 2006, co-edited with S.R. Thomsen. His latest book on North Korea (with Hatla Thelle) was “Dialogue With North Korea? Preconditions for Talking Human Rights With a Hermit Kingdom”. NIAS Press 2013. He has further drafted reports for the Danish and the Norwegian Foreign Ministries on the situation in North Korea; co-organized training courses on doing business in South Korea for the Confederation of Danish Industries; and organized Track-2 initiatives with North Korean counterparts sponsored by the Scandinavian ministries of foreign affairs. He is a regular commentator on Korean affairs in the Nordic media, and acts as an advisor to public and private organizations regarding relations with the two Koreas.

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