Visualizing History: The Politics of North Korean Art

The Light of the People the Great Leader Kim Il Sung by Hong Sŏngch’ŏl, Kim Sŏngch’ŏl, and Hong Gŭnch’an (1990) illustrates the representation of history in North Korean art
The study of visual images can illuminate how a society reconstructs its past and present. Min-Kyung Yoon will explore this theme by examining the interplay of art, history, and politics in North Korea in a presentation titled “Visualizing History: The Politics of North Korean Art, 1966–1994.”

Yoon, a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Korean Studies and University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Department of History, will speak Thursday, September 29, 2016, at 4:00 p.m. at the Center for Korean Studies.

Yoon’s talk will explore the ways visual images write history in North Korea. As part of wider cultural production, art in North Korea is largely used to legitimate the North Korean state and its leaders. From the rise of a distinctive North Korean ink-and-brush painting in 1966 to the death of Kim Il Sung in 1994, Yoon will explore how history and the everyday were recreated in paintings to give visual form to a socialist imaginary far removed from the present reality yet essential for sustaining the state and its leaders. What emerges through this exploration is how ideology in North Korea, often perceived as constant, has changed, evolved, and engaged with the world.

Min-Kyung Yoon speaks on North Korean artMin-Kyung Yoon researches the visual arts of North Korea. She earned her Ph.D. at Leiden University in 2014. Previously she was a postdoctoral fellow at the École française d’Extrême-Orient. She earned her master’s degree in East Asia regional studies from Harvard University in 2006 and her bachelor’s degree in history at the University of Michigan in 2004. Her talk is sponsored by the Center for Korean Studies, the UH Department of History, and the Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society.

For further information, including information on access for the handicapped, telephone the Center for Korean Studies at (808) 956-7041 or (808) 956-2212.

This program is supported by a Core University Program for Korean Studies Grant through the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and the Korean Studies Promotion Service of the Academy of Korean Studies (AKS-2015-OLU-2250005).

CKS Film Series: On An Island of Elderly Women

poster for film series entry MapadoThe Center for Korean Studies fall 2016 film series continues Tuesday, September 27, with a tale of reversed roles on an isolated island. The featured film is Mapado: Island of Fortunes (마파도), a 2005 release directed by Choo Changmin.

The film is the second in the series “Late Blossoms: Old Age in Korean Cinema.” These movies offer a bright view of later life embodying moments of love, laughter, and lasting youthful spirit. The series aims to present an appreciation of the elderly of South Korea, where the elderly population is increasing.

The central characters in Mapado are a gangster named Jaecheol and a corrupt policeman named Changsu. On the trail of a young woman who stole a winning lottery ticket worth millions from them, they find their way to the small, isolated island of Mapado. There they discover the island is inhabited only by five elderly women. The women, odd but friendly, have not seen a man for twenty years. While waiting for a boat to take them off the island, Jaecheol and Changsu live a nightmarish week of slave labor and sexual harassment by the old women.

CKS film screenings are free and open to all. They take place in the Center for Korean Studies Auditorium at 1881 East-West Road on the University of Hawai’i Mānoa campus. Korean films are shown with English subtitles. The show begins at 6:30 p.m.

Limited, paid ($6.00) public parking is available in the parking lot adjacent to the Center and in other visitor parking lots on campus. For more information about parking regulations and locations, consult the campus parking office Web page.

This series is supported by the Timothy and Miriam Wee Memorial Fund at the Center for Korean Studies. DVDs used for the screenings are gifts of the Korean Film Council and the Korean Film Archive. For information about the other films in the series, follow this link.

For further information about the series, contact the Center for Korean Studies at (808) 956-7041 or Jude Y. Yang (yoonlim@hawaii.edu) at (808) 956-2319.

An advertising trailer for Mapado is available here:

 

Film Series Portrays Old Age in Korean Cinema

The Center for Korean Studies fall 2016 film series, “Late Blossoms: Old Age in Korean Cinema,” offers five films exploring different aspects of the lives of elderly South Koreans. All of the films portray the late stages of life in a bright prospect with moments of love, laughter, and lasting youthful spirit.

The series aims to present an appreciation of the elderly of South Korea, where the increase in the aging population is shrinking the workforce and slowing the country’s growth. Despite the negative connotations of aging, the elderly are crucial in passing on tradition, culture, and language to future generations, keeping Korean customs as fresh as ever.

fall film series attraction: Salut d'AmourThe series begins Tuesday, September 13, 2016, with a showing of Salut d’Amour (장수 상회), a 2015 release directed by Kang Je gyu. The film’s story centers on a seventy-year-old man named Sungchil, a part-time supermarket worker known for his grumpy and stubborn personality. Sungchil meets a new neighbor, Geunnim, a lively, friendly elderly lady who is in charge of the local flower shop. Even at his advanced age, Sungchil is inexperienced and clumsy in romance, but the entire town cheers him on as he courts her. Geunnim’s daughter, however, does not approve of their relationship.

The remaining features in the fall film series include:

  • Mapado: Island of Fortunes (마파도, 2005), directed by Choo Changmin, on September 27.
  • My Love, Don’t Cross That River (님아 그 강을 건너지 마오, 2016), directed by Jin Moyoung, on October 11.
  • Miss Granny (수상한 그녀, 2014), directed by Hwang Donghyuk, on November 1.
  • The Way Home (집으로, 2002), directed by Lee Jeonghyang, on November 15.

For more information about these films, follow this link.

Film Series Venue

Film exhibitions for this series take place in the Center for Korean Studies Noh Auditorium at 1881 East-West Road on the University of Hawai’i Mānoa campus. Screenings begin at 6:30 p.m. Korean films are shown with English subtitles.

Jude Y. Yang, Korea librarian of the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa Hamilton Library, selected the films for this series. Katalina Kim assisted production of the series. DVDs used for the exhibitions are gifts of the Korean Film Council and the Korean Film Archive. The series is supported by the Timothy and Miriam Wee Memorial Fund at the Center for Korean Studies.

For More Information

For further information about the film series, contact the Center for Korean Studies at (808) 956-7041 or Jude Y. Yang (yoonlim@hawaii.edu) at (808) 956-2319.

Limited, paid ($6.00) public parking is available in the parking lot adjacent to the Center and in other visitor parking lots on campus. For more information about parking regulations and locations, consult the campus parking office Web page.

Sino-North Korean Relations

Kevin Gray speaks on Sino-North Korean relationsThe East-West Center Research Program will sponsor a lunch-time brown-bag discussion by POSCO Visiting Fellow
Kevin Gray Tuesday, August 23, 2016. Gray’s topic is “Sino-North Korean Relations and China’s Northeastern Development Strategy.” The program will take place from 12 noon to 1:00 p.m. in Burns Hall room 3012.

Sino-North Korean relations may seem puzzling in that while China seeks to increase its influence in global economic and political governance, it nevertheless continues to pursue a strategy of engagement with North Korea despite increasingly stringent UN-mandated sanctions.

Analyses of China’s policy often neglect the ongoing multi-faceted transformation of the Chinese state since the late 1970s along with the profound rescaling of political authority in China, the diversification of public and private actors involved in relations with North Korea, and the multiple and often contradictory goals that those actors pursue. Also neglected is the question how the rescaling and decentralization of political and economic governance has exacerbated China’s uneven development and has raised issues of potential social unrest in China’s northeast.

China’s regional development projects, which have emphasized North Korea’s role as “geographical fix” to the relatively isolated provinces of the northeast have become an increasingly important vector in Sino-North Korean relations.

Gray will argue that in comparison to China’s ideological commitment to the country or its perceived utility in China’s increasingly tense standoff with the United States and its allies in Northeast Asia, more attention needs to be paid to regional development efforts in shaping the substance of China’s relations with North Korea. At the same time, he contends, relations between the two countries have become increasingly amorphous and ridden with contradictions and are, as a result, irreducible to any single geopolitical logic.

About Kevin Gray

Kevin Gray is a reader in international relations at the School of Global Studies, University of Sussex, in the United Kingdom. He researches North Korean development, Chinese-North Korean relations, and East Asian political economy more broadly. He is the author of Korean Workers and Neoliberal Globalisation (Routledge, 2008), Labour and Development in East Asia: Social Forces and Passive Revolution (Routledge, 2015); People Power in an Era of Global Crisis: Rebellion, Resistance, and Liberation, with Barry K. Gills (Routledge, 2012); and Rising Powers and the Future of Global Governance, with Craig N. Murphy (Routledge, 2013).

USC Korean Heritage Library Research Grants

research grants at USC libraryThe University of Southern California Korean Heritage Library is offering research grants for Korean studies researchers, librarians, and educators wishing to use its collections. The grants are supported by the Overseas Korean Studies and Heritage Foundation.

Scholars and librarians whose research can benefit from the resources at the USC Korean Heritage Library are eligible to apply. The program is open to scholars from Korea and other countries outside the United States and to those at domestic U.S. institutions with few Korean library resources.

Grants will be awarded to up to three scholars. The awards are up to $2,000 for international scholars and up to $1,000 for domestic scholars. Proposals must be submitted by August 31, 2016. Applications will be reviewed by a panel of USC librarians. The selected recipients will be notified September 30, 2016. Awarded grants must be used by September 30, 2017.

Recipients are required to submit a brief report at the end of on-site research; acknowledge the grant in resulting publications; provide gift copies of resulting publications where possible; and submit receipts for reimbursement up to the amount of the award.

The application form and additional information can be found at https://libraries.usc.edu/locations/east-asian-library/korean-research-grant. The completed form must be accompanied by a brief statement (approximately 250 words) describing the research project and its purpose and the need for on-site research at USC, a proposed visit schedule, an estimated budget, and a curriculum vitae.

Inquiries regarding the grants may be directed to Joy Kim (joykim@usc.edu), curator of the Korean Heritage Library, or Kenneth Klein (kklein@usc.edu), head of the East Asian Library.

More information about the Korean Heritage Library, located in the USC Doheny Memorial Library in Los Angeles, can be found at https://libraries.usc.edu/korean-heritage-library.

Political Economy of South Korea and the Northeast Asia Region

Jonathan Westover speaks about political economy of South KoreaThe East-West Center Research Program will present a discussion of aspects of the political economy of South Korea and the Northeast Asian region on Wednesday, June 22, 2016, at 12 noon in Burns Hall room 3012.

The speaker will be EWC POSCO Visiting Fellow Jonathan Westover. His topic is “The Evolving International Political Economy of South Korea and the Northeast Asian Region: A Focus on Shifting Workplace Orientation, 1981-2014.”

According to Westover, cross-disciplinary research on worker attitudes and workplace conditions has linked worker experiences to many individual, organizational, and social outcomes. Such research has failed, however, to shed light on why cross-national differences in worker satisfaction and engagement and their determinants persist. Some research suggests that differences are due to cultural factors, but this approach has failed to show why countries with similar cultural orientations still experience significant differences. Thus there remain questions about the causes of the differences and the long-term effects of sustainable economic development and labor prosperity. Moreover, few studies have looked at changes in work quality cross-nationally from the perspective of workers while accounting for country-contextual characteristics.

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