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North Korean Graphic Novels: Seduction of the Innocent?

Publisher: , 2020
Link to online store *

Graphic novels (kurimchaek) are a major art form in North Korea, produced by agents of the regime to set out its vision in a range of important areas. This book provides an analysis of North Korean graphic novels, discussing the ideals they promote and the tensions within those ideals, and examining the reception of graphic novels in North Korea and by North Korean refugees in South Korea. Particular themes considered include the ideal family and how the regime promotes this; patriotism, and its conflict with class identities; and the portrayal of the Korean War – “The Fatherland Liberation War”, as it is known in North Korea – and the subsequent, continuing stand-off. Overall, the book demonstrates the importance of graphic novels in North Korea as a tool for bringing up children and for promoting North Korean ideals. In addition, however, the book also shows that although the regime sees the imaginative power of graphic novels as a necessity for effective communication, graphic novels are also viewed with caution in that they exist in everyday social life in ways that the regime may be aware of, and seeks to control, but cannot dominate completely.

Martin Petersen is a Senior Researcher at the National Museum of Denmark


Introduction: Seduction of the innocent? Kurimchaek as entertainment, education, harmful media, political propaganda and beyond

Source: publisher’s website

Part One: History, media and regime

Chapter One: A short history of North Korea and kurimchaek
Chapter Two: Post-1998 North Korean graphic novels
Chapter Three: Father, Mother and Son: One family, one nation, one medium

Part Two: Seduction of the reader

Chapter Four: A society in crisis? From The Arduous March to a New Deal
Chapter Five: The downfall of a model citizen? Family background as plot tension and policy discord
Chapter Six: Sleepless in the DPRK: Graphic negotiations of ‘family’ in The True Identity of ‘Pear Blossom’
Chapter Seven: Patriots behind enemy lines: Hyperreality and excess in graphic novels about war

Part Three: Reading for the reader

Chapter Eight: Reading for the North Korean reader I: Media framing of comics consumption in contemporary DPRK
Chapter Nine: Reading for the North Korean reader II: Comics in children’s literature and refugee reminiscences

Entry on here.

* Where the book is available from a number of sources, they are prioritised as follows: (1) Amazon UK site, or for the more recent uploads (2) Amazon US site (3) Other sites in US or Europe, including second-hand outlets (4) LTI Korea, where the title is advertised as available from there (5) Onlines stores in Korea. Links to and Amazon UK site contain an affiliate code which, should you make a purchase, gives a small commission to LKL at no additional cost to you.