Modern Times in North Korea: Scenes from the Founding Years
Friday, December 6th, 2013
|Friday, December 6, 2013||12:00PM - 2:00PM||208N, North House, Munk School of Global Affairs|
1 Devonshire Place
North Korea is often portrayed in mainstream media as a backward place without a history worth knowing. But during its founding years
(1945-1950), North Korea experienced a radical social revolution when everyday life became the single most important arena for experiencing the
revolution in progress. Historical accounts across the political spectrum characterize the five-year postliberation period as a period of competing
ideologies. But what distinguished these competing visions for Korea’s decolonization were not lofty political goals, since everyone advocated
independence and democracy, but the minute details of how everyday life should be organized. In that sense, everyday life became the primary site
of revolutionary struggle in North Korea, and serves as the most useful theoretical category for understanding the North Korean Revolution in
particular, and social revolutions in general, as expressions of a heroic modernist impulse.
Suzy Kim is Assistant Professor in the Department of Asian Languages & Cultures at Rutgers University. She received her Ph.D. in History from the
University of Chicago. Her research focuses on North Korea’s social and cultural history. Her book Everyday Life in the North Korean Revolution,
1945-1950 was recently published by Cornell University Press. Her teaching and research interests focus on modern Korean history with particular
attention to gender studies, oral history, and social theory.
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