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SOAS seminar: North Korea and Socialist Czechoslovakia

The second SOAS seminar of June:

North Korea and Socialist Czechoslovakia from the World War II to Sino-Soviet Split

Amb. Jaroslav Olša, jr.
Friday 14 June 2019, 5:15 – 7:00 PM
Venue: SOAS Brunei Gallery Room: B204 | Register on the SOAS website


Tomorrow, People Will Be Dancing Everywhere
Still from Czechoslovak feature film ‘Tomorrow, People Will Be Dancing Everywhere’ (1952), featuring Czech actress Eva Kubešová (right) and Korean dancer An Seong-hui (left)

The seminar focuses on the decade of the most intensive cooperation between the unlikely allies – newly Communist Czechoslovakia and recently established DPRK – which were brought together by the Soviets in the 1950s. Though the relations between Central Europe and the Korean Peninsula were minimal and mostly accidental before WWII, and their knowledge of each other was quite limited, the Czechoslovak-North Korean cooperation during and after the Korean War became wide and broad – from humanitarian help to development aid, from political to economic support, from the field of literature to that of film field… This played a significant role in creating the new “Communist Bloc”, in which fraternity played an important role.The lecture will also cover the role of Czechoslovakia in Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission which kept the peace on the Peninsula for many decades, as well as the phenomenal rise of Czech(oslovak) Korean studies since its creation in the 1940s, which was – among many other things – a child of the ideological support between the two “fraternal” allies.

Speaker Biography

Amb. Jaroslav Olša, jr. (1964) is a career diplomat with 27 years experience. He served as Ambassador to South Korea (2008-2014) as well as to the Philippines (2014-2018) and Zimbabwe (2000-2006). He studied Asian and African studies at Charles Univ., Prague and International Relations at Univ. of Amsterdam. He has published and/or co-edited three English-language books covering different aspects of Czech(oslovak)-Korean relations (the early years of NNSC, early Czech travellers in Korea, and Czech(oslovak)-Korean film interactions – all available at SOAS library) and a Czech-language book on Han Heung-su, the founding father of (North) Korean archaeology and Czechoslovak Korean studies.

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