Charles K. Armstrong presents Tyranny of the Weak

3 12 2013

Tyranny of the WeakOn Monday, December 9th, at 7pm, Charles Armstrong will host a discussion on his new book, “Tyranny of the Weak: North Korea and the World, 1950-1992” (Cornell U. Press). The talk will take place at Book Culture, 536 West 112th Street (between Broadway and Amsterdam)

To much of the world, North Korea is an impenetrable mystery, its inner workings unknown and its actions toward the outside unpredictable and frequently provocative. Tyranny of the Weak reveals for the first time the motivations, processes, and effects of North Korea’s foreign relations during the Cold War era.

Drawing on extensive research in the archives of North Korea’s present and former communist allies, including the Soviet Union, China, and East Germany, Charles K. Armstrong tells in vivid detail how North Korea managed its alliances with fellow communist states, maintained a precarious independence in the Sino-Soviet split, attempted to reach out to the capitalist West and present itself as a model for Third World development, and confronted and engaged with its archenemies, the United States and South Korea.

From the invasion that set off the Korean War in June 1950 to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Tyranny of the Weak shows how—despite its objective weakness—North Korea has managed for much of its history to deal with the outside world to its maximum advantage. Insisting on a path of “self-reliance” since the 1950s, North Korea has continually resisted pressure to change from enemies and allies alike. A worldview formed in the crucible of the Korean War and Cold War still maintains a powerful hold on North Korea in the twenty-first century, and understanding those historical forces is as urgent today as it was sixty years ago.

Charles K. Armstrong is the Korea Foundation Professor of Korean Studies in the Social Sciences at Columbia University. His recent books include The Koreas (Routledge, 2007); Puk Choson Tansaeng, the Korean translation of The North Korean Revolution, 1945–1950(Seoul: Booksea, 2006; originally Cornell University Press, 2003);Korea at the Center: Dynamics of Regionalism in Northeast Asia(M. E. Sharpe, 2006, coeditor); and Korean Society: Civil Society,Democracy, and the State (Routledge, 2002, editor; 2nd edition, 2006).





East Asia Beyond the History Wars: Confronting the Ghosts of Violence

18 01 2013

ImageBy Tessa Morris-Suzuki, Morris Low, Leonid Petrov, Timothy Y. Tsu (Published on 18 Dec.2012 by Routledge, 208 pages, Series: Asia’s Transformations)

East Asia is now the world’s economic powerhouse, but ghosts of history continue to trouble relations between the key countries of the region, particularly between Japan, China and the two Koreas. Unhappy legacies of Japan’s military expansion in pre-war Asia prompt on-going calls for apologies, while conflicts over ownership of cultural heritage cause friction between China and Korea, and no peace treaty has ever been signed to conclude the Korean War.

For over a decade, the region’s governments and non-government groups have sought to confront the ghosts of the past by developing paths to reconciliation. Focusing particularly on popular culture and grassroots action, East Asia beyond the History Wars explores these East Asian approaches to historical reconciliation. This book examines how Korean historians from North and South exchange ideas about national history, how Chinese film-makers reframe their views of the war with Japan, and how Japanese social activists develop grassroots reconciliation projects with counterparts from Korea and elsewhere. As the volume’s studies of museums, monuments and memorials show, East Asian public images of modern history are changing, but change is fragile and uncertain. This unfinished story of East Asia’s search for historical reconciliation has important implications for the study of popular memory worldwide.

Presenting a fresh perspective on reconciliation which draws on both history and cultural studies, this book will be welcomed by students and scholars working in the fields of Asian history, Asian culture and society as well as those interested in war and memory studies more generally.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Confronting the Ghosts of War in East Asia, Tessa Morris-Suzuki

PART I: Reconciliation as Method

1. On the Frontiers of History: Territory and cross-border dialogue in East Asia, Leonid Petrov and Tessa Morris-Suzuki

2. Historiography, Media and Cross-Border Dialogue in Korea: Korea’s uncertain path to reconciliation, Leonid Petrov

3.Reconciliation Onscreen: The Second Sino-Japanese War in Chinese War Movies, Timothy Tsu

4. Letters to the Dead: Grassroots historical dialogue in East Asia’s borderlands, Tessa Morris-Suzuki

PART II: Re-Framing Memories

5. Gender and Representations of the War in Tokyo Museums, Morris Low

6. Remembering the Unfinished Conflict: Museums and the Contested Memory of the Korean War, Tessa Morris-Suzuki

7. Art, Photography and Remembering Hiroshima, Morris Low

8. Heroes, Collaborators and Survivors: Korean kamikaze pilots and the ghosts of war in Japan and Korea, Tessa Morris-Suzuki

About the Authors:

Tessa Morris-Suzuki is Professor of Japanese History at the Australian National University.

Morris Low is Associate Professor of Japanese History at the University of Queensland, Australia.

Leonid Petrov is a former Chair of Korean Studies at Sciences Po (Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris) and teaches Korean History and Language at the University of Sydney, Australia.

Timothy Y. Tsu is Professor in the School of International Studies, Kwansei Gakuin University, Japan.

Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 0415637457
EAN: 9780415637459
Dimensions: 23.0 x 15.0 centimeters (0.47 kg)
 Buy on-line  http://www.fishpond.com.au/Books/East-Asia-Beyond-History-Wars-Tessa-Morris-Suzuki-Morris-Low/9780415637459




North Korea Caught in Time: Images of War and Reconstruction

11 03 2009

nk-caught-in-time_book-coverPublished: May 2009, Hardback, 176 pp. Size: 260 x 210mm, Garnet Publishing, ISBN: 978-1-85964-214-6

The tumultuous past of the world’s most secretive nation is revealed in this unique photographic collection. North Korea has been described as “the land that never changes”. But its early years witnessed unimaginable turbulence, both in the devastation of the Korean War and in the postwar ferment in which military interventions by the Chinese and the Americans both played a part. Comprising more than 150 rare photos – most never before seen in print – North Korea Caught in Time documents the country’s destruction and painful rebirth. The accompanying text analyzes the regime’s totalitarian ethos and highlights their many official distortions of history.

Authors: California-born Chris Springer is the author of Pyongyang: The Hidden History of the North Korean Capital. He also curated the 2002 exhibition Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in Budapest. His research focuses on North Korean domestic history. He has visited North Korea three times. Balázs Szalontai is the author of Kim Il Sung in the Khrushchev Era: Soviet-DPRK Relations and the Roots of North Korean Despotism, 1953-1964. His research concerns the modern history of Korea, Vietnam, Mongolia, Cambodia, and Albania. He currently teaches at Mongolia International University, Ulaanbaatar.

Reviews: “Chris Springer’s fascinating book is full of unseen, unexpected, and arresting photographs of North Korea in the midst of war and reconstruction. […] These priceless photos are an indelible tribute to the resilience of the Korean people.”, Bruce Cumings, chair of the History Department at the University of Chicago, and author of Korea’s Place in the Sun: A Modern History

“An important visual record of North Korea’s history and development.”, Don Oberdorfer, author of The Two Koreas: A Contemporary History

“Chris Springer in assembling this remarkable book had to come to grips with the fact that, because of official strictures that severely limited photography … there are few remaining photos from the period covered that were not disseminated by the regime’s own propaganda authorities. … Anyone interested in North Korea’s early days will want to own and peruse this revealing volume and shelve it next to the mere handful of earlier published pictorial histories…”, Bradley K. Martin, author of Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader: North Korea and the Kim Dynasty





North Korea: A Prisoner of Its Own History

7 12 2008

By Leonid Petrov,  Acta Koreana (Dec. 2008)

kji_paranoid-peninsulaA globalized and interdependent world is deep in a financial crisis. Responding to the new tough realities, individual states and regional communities adjust their production and consumption mechanisms. Flexibility and common sense help the economic systems survive and recover. Only North Korea — the last “orthodox” communist state — has no plans for change. Experts predicted North Korea’s imminent collapse in the early 1990s, but it remains defiant and ignorant to the obvious necessity of modernization. The country remains locked in a self-destructive cycle, where ideology controls the politics and faulty policies kill the economy. Self-imposed isolation and external sanctions keep North Korea poor but stable, providing the regime with unconventional opportunities for survival. Isolated and paranoid, it may well stay around for another century.

Paul French’s book “North Korea: The Paranoid Peninsula. A Modern History” (first published in 2005) is now in its second edition, revised in 2007. It offers a profound and comprehensive analysis of the DPRK’s political and socio-economic peculiarities and examines the phenomenon of this country’s obstinate denial of reality. A director of Shanghai-based Access Asia, Mr. French boasts the first-hand knowledge of North Korea that positions him well to judge its business practices and domestic policies. Relying on open-source material and personal observations, the author provides a dispassionate analysis of what is known about the situation in this highly secretive state.

See the full text here…

Paul French, North Korea: The Paranoid Peninsula. A Modern History (2nd revised edition), Publisher: Zed Books, London, NY, 2007, 334 pages.





“Exodus to North Korea”

20 08 2008

Exodus to North Korea“EXODUS TO NORTH KOREA: Shadows from Japan’s Cold War”

By Tessa Morris-Suzuki (Australian National University)

“This is the story of one of the most extraordinary forgotten tragedies of the Cold War: the “return” of over 90,000 people, most of them ethnic Koreans, from Japan to North Korea from 1959 onward. Presented to the world as a humanitarian venture and conducted under the supervision of the International Red Cross, the scheme was actually the result of political intrigues involving the governments of Japan , North Korea , the Soviet Union, and the United States . The great majority of the Koreans who journeyed to North Korea in fact originated from the southern part of the Korean peninsula, and many had lived all their lives in Japan . Though most left willingly, persuaded by propaganda that a bright new life awaited them in North Korea , I drew on recently declassified documents to reveal the covert pressures used to hasten the departure of this unwelcome ethnic minority. For most, their new home proved a place of poverty and hardship; for thousands, it was a place of persecution and death. In rediscovering their extraordinary personal stories, this book also casts new light on the politics of the Cold War and on present-day tensions between North Korea and the rest of the world.” (Tessa Morris-Suzuki)

You can find a short video linked to the book here… and buy a copy on-line here…

EXODUS TO NORTH KOREA MUSEUM website by the author

The Forgotten Victims of the North Korean Crisis
By Tessa Morris-Suzuki

Between 1959 and 1984, these few were among the 93,340 people who migrated from Japan to North Korea in search of a new and better life. There were several particularly ironic features of this migration. First, it took place precisely at the time of Japan’s “economic miracle”. Secondly, although it was described as a “repatriation”, almost all those who “returned” to North Korea originally came from the south of the Korean peninsula, and many had been born and lived all their lives in Japan. Third, the glowing images of life which tempted them to Kim Il Sung’s “worker’s paradise” came, not just from the North Korean propaganda machine but from the Japanese mainstream media, supported and encouraged by politicians including key members of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

After decades in North Korea, around one hundred migrants have now escaped the harsh realities of life there, and made the perilous return journey back to Japan. Other survivors of the same project who managed to escape have settled in South Korea.

The story of their migration has been almost entirely unheard by the rest of the world. But it urgently needs to be heard, not least because it involves an injustice that resulted in the deaths of thousands of people, and is still causing the deaths and untold suffering today. The history of this migration also reveals the complexity of postwar Japan’s connections with North Korea: and without understanding this, it is impossible fully to understand the impasse which their relations have now reached.

As secret documents from the Cold War era are declassified and testimony from survivors emerges, the true story of this mass movement is now starting to emerge for the first time. We now know that it was the product of a deliberate policy, very carefully designed and implemented at the height of the Cold War by the North Korean and Japanese governments often working in concert, and supported in various ways by the Soviet Union, the United States and the International Red Cross movement. It is a history that sheds important light on the complex background to Northeast Asia’s contemporary conflicts. It also evokes chilling echoes of other coerced or manipulated migrations, including the repatriation of Eastern Europeans to the Soviet Union and other Communist countries in the immediate post-war era.

More at Japan Focus