Organized Panel Session
Despite the long seclusion and exclusion of North Korea from the global scene, a desire for knowledge of this little-known and (perhaps, in some ways) unknowable country has been addressed through cultural products such as books, documentaries, monuments, and political rhetoric. This panel pays attention to the ways in which knowledge of North Korea has been produced, circulated, and consumed in the global context by situating North Korea, not as a fixed, sovereign entity, but as a manufactured discourse with its own material reality. We investigate the following questions from different disciplinary perspectives: 1) What kinds of methods or theories have been employed in North Korean studies? 2) What drives the production and circulation of knowledge about North Korea—and what drives ignorance about the country? 3) How can we understand the relationship between imagination (cultural products) and international politics, not only in discourse about North Korea but also in actual, material reality? We look into the emergence of expertise on North Korea in global publication markets (June Hee Kwon) and the speakability of North Korean memories written in English—who is allowed, and who is notallowed, to speak about North Korea to a global audience (Jay Song). We also delve into North Korea’s cultural diplomacy and political rhetoric through the subterranean politics and realities of Asia-Africa relations (Shine Choi) and the coincidence of North Korean unfreedom with an US abolitionist praxis that inherits the liberationist idiom of race-radical movements in post-9/11 interventionist human rights politics.