Politics and International Relations
This panel examines the interconnections between Eastern Europe and East Asia, with a specific focus on the relations among socialist/post-socialist states. Each of three papers of our panel discusses a different aspect of Easter Europe-East Asia interconnectivities. The distinctive aspects to be dealt in the panel consist of: the historical relations between the two regions; the parallel between the cases of each region; and the changing domestic policies on regional/global relations. The panel not only covers interesting influences or parallels between Eastern Europe and its former East Asian allies, but also has significance to the understanding the North Korean society and its relations with the world.
First, Tae-kyung Kim’s paper presents on the 1950-1960s North Korean literary representations of war experiences in Eastern European states. By investigating the works published by the North Korean writers after their friendship visits to the Eastern European allies, Kim shows the comparative views taken by these writers at the time, especially on the subject of war and postwar socialist building. The comparative perspective of these authors draws our attention to how they engaged their efforts to bridge European histories to their own country’s, situating theirs in a larger context of postwar socialist constructions.
Second, Cheol-gee Yoon’s presentation is on the comparative analysis of the public spheres and practices both in East Germany and China in 1989. Focusing on the social upheavals in 1989, Yoon argues that the different aftermaths of the unprecedented political outbursts in both states, were derived from the combination of four causes. They are: autonomy of civil society; spread of critical voices in public sphere; mobilized physical power by the government and military; solidarity with international community. Yoon’s analysis of the public spheres for the drastic political changes helps our more nuanced understanding on the developments in 1989 in the two different parts of the former socialist bloc.
Lastly, Sunkyung Choi shows the recently changing North Korea’s global imaginary in its pursuit of a powerful socialist state, by looking at the North Korean media, in particular SNS media. What makes Choi’s study significant is that it shows the ongoing dynamics between the media representation and the socialist state building, while emphasizing a newly emerging global imaginary of North Korea. Choi’s argument on the North Korean media as a site for renegotiating the meaning of “socialist state” reveals how North Korea under Kim Jong-un is reshaping its relations with the outside world.