[KS] Korean nationalism & Language of NK propaganda – request for help to find sources

Tobias Lehmann Tobias53 at gmx.de
Fri Jul 29 16:21:13 EDT 2011


I recommend to read Sheila M. Jager's book "Narratives of Nation Building in Korea" or Roy R. Grinker's "Korea and its Futures" even though both publications are a bit outdated but still worth to read, esp. from the theoretical perspective, i.e. approach to Korean nationalism in contrast to the European configuration of the phenomenon. The first one is about narratives of national romance and reconcilation but also about the meaning of culturally related term such as han or jeong for Korean national identity. The latter one is a psycho-cultural analysis of the officially sacred goal of unification and its various discourses, which in fact, according to the author, might turn out to be a threat for a great part of the SK society because it threatens people's anti-communist socialization, its national identity determined by the division and opposition to the North. 

Koreans will have hard times to recognize and then accept that NK people are necessarily different and in some ways even deviant in many fields after such a long time of division and without going through modernization and its transitional effects. Koreans share the same ancestors, history, language and esp. blood and are therefore assumed to be culturally homogenous. In contrast, recognizing difference is a tough issue within a society who still adheres to its notion of homogeneity among themselves, as the Korean term for heterogeneity (이질) has not merely a negative connotation but also cannot be imagined and accepted within the Korean minjok, only acceptable towards foreigners which are in the Korean mindeset per se different because of its "foreigness", but Koreans, so goes the natives' logic, assume that difference doesn't apply to their fellows in the North because they have so much in common and share many Korean values and, if not at the very beginning, will quickly overcome possible differences...admittedly it's in some ways questionable whether it's mere rhetoric or if people still believe in it. 

You should definetely try to read some of the Korean language material as well such as the articles in 강원택 (ed.), 한국인의 국가정체성과 한국정치 and 주성하, 서울에서 쓰는 평양 이야기, a NK refugee resided in the South who has written for the Donga ilbo and has compiled these articles in this volume.

I will also attach one article about post-unification identity by Jee Sun Lee, Korean-American nationalism expert.

It's a very tough topic and very contentious, if not the most contentious these days in Korea.

Best of luck.


-------- Original-Nachricht --------
> Datum: Thu, 28 Jul 2011 11:32:29 -0700 (PDT)
> Von: Marta <martha_89_pl at yahoo.com>
> An: "koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws" <koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>
> Betreff: [KS] Korean nationalism & Language of NK propaganda – request for help to find sources

> Dear List Members,
> I must apologize as this is my first message and already I am asking for
> some help, please excuse me.
> I recently received B.A. in Political Science (from Warsaw University,
> located in the capital of Poland). My thesis was entitled „Art as a mean of
> political propaganda in North Korea”. Now, as a M.A. student, I am
> planning to prepare next work. Due to the fact, that since October I will join
> faculty of Korean Philology additionally, I also have to write next B.A.
> thesis. This time I have an idea of following subjects: 
> 1. for M.A. thesis – „Contemporary Korean nationalism in the DPRK”
> 2. B.A. – „Linguistic aspects of written propaganda in North Korea”
> (from typically linguistic point of view, not concerning political science)
> I began research to find materials about these topics, for example by
> searching books on Web portals, e.g. Amazon or AbeBooks. I have already read or
> at least purchased books on Korean nationalism and propaganda written,
> among others, by Bryan Myers, Andrei Lankov, Bruce Cumings, Gi-Wook Shin, etc.
> However, I do not have any idea how to find articles and dissertations
> (i.e. B.A./M.A. theses on similar topics, prepared on universities around the
> world), which are hard to obtain for non-scholars and publicly unavailable
> on the Web. Could you give me any help or suggestions, how to look for such
> works?
> Do you know any researchers, who are specialized in following topics to
> whom I could write via e-mail for advice? Or any good articles or documents
> regarding exactly subjects I am interested in?
> By the way, I would like to ask you about one more thing... Is it actually
> appropriate to ask scholars for their works directly, if I want them to
> make their texts available for me (by sending via e-mail, in .pdf format)? I
> am very afraid that I may be construed as impolite...
> I can read Korean that I learn since 3 years now, but I prefer English and
> generally I am rather looking for English-language materials.
> I would be very grateful for any help from you.
> Best regards,
> Marta

Tobias Lehmann, M.A.

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