Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll in North Korea

20 08 2013

DPRK flag_Sex,Drugs and Rock'n'RollJoin a free event featuring two internationally preeminent scholars in North Korean studies: Professor Andrei Lankov of Kookmin University, Professor Seok-Hyang Kim of Ewha Womans University, and a panel of Australian experts to discuss North Korea’s quiet transformation.


University of Technology Sydney,
Cosmopolitan Civil Societies Research Centre,
Level 3, MaryAnn House, 645 Harris Street, ULTIMO, NSW 2007.
9:30am -12:00 pm
Thursday, 29 August 2013


North Korea is often described as the world’s last Stalinist country, but this description is misleading in several important ways: the country is now an emerging market economy and undergoing significant cultural change. While the Stalinist facade remains, de facto private enterprises (ranging from small markets and private plots, all the way up to large pseudo-state coal mines and trading companies) have come to dominate the North Korean economy. The cultural landscape is also experiencing significant change.

In this workshop the panel of experts, who conducted numerous interviews with North Koreans, will outline some of the key changes that are occurring in this country in transition. A particular focus will be directed to economic and social change, including changes in consumption patterns and the spread of popular culture. These issues will be discussed in the context of the emerging market economy. This workshop will also include presentations on the lives and rights of North Korean immigrants in Australia, and the depiction of North Korea by the Australian media.


09:30-10:00am Coffee and welcome

10:00-10:30am Introduction and “Sex, Drugs and Rock-n-Roll in North Korea: new phenomena in the land of ‘no change’” (Dr. Leonid Petrov)

10:30-11:00am North Korean Restaurants: the new economy in North Korea (Prof. Andrei Lankov)

11:00-11:30am Everyday life in North Korea: From the lives of women to the impact of drugs (Prof. Seok-Hyang Kim)

11:30am-12:00pm North Koreans in Australia (Dr. Kyung-Ja Jung);
North Korea and the Australian media (Dr. Bronwen Dalton)

The workshop is funded by the Australian Research Council and the University of Technology, Sydney’s Centre for Cosmopolitan Civil Societies (CCS)

Andrei LankovProf. Andrei Lankov was born in 1963 in St. Petersburg. He completed his undergraduate and graduate studies at Leningrad State University (PhD in 1989). Between 1996 and 2004 he taught Korean history at the ANU, and since 2004 he has been teaching at Kookmin University in Seoul. His major English language publications on North Korea include: From Stalin to Kim Il Sung: The Formation of North Korea, 1945-1960 (Rutgers University Press, 2003); Crisis in North Korea: The Failure of De-Stalinization, 1956 (University of Hawaii Press, 2004), North of the DMZ: Essays on Daily Life in North Korea (McFarland and Company, 2007), The Real North Korea (Oxford University Press, 2013).

김석향_1Prof. Seok-Hyang Kim worked at the Center for Unification of the ROK’s Ministry of Unification. Since 2005, she has been a Professor at the Department of North Korean Studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul.  Her research topics include the everyday life of ordinary people in North Korea and defectors’ lives after leaving North Korea. She has recently published: People from  Hyeryong, North Korea, Let  Others Know Their Own Stories. (Seoul: Kookmin University Press, 2013); ‘Study on the Consumption Trend Phenomenon in North Korea after 1990: Based on the Experiences of North Korean Defectors,’ in North Korean Studies Review (2012); and ‘Public and Private Discourse on Human Rights in North Korea,’ Ewha Journal of Social Science (2012).

kyungja-jungDr. Kyung-Ja Jung ‘s academic interests are grounded in and inspired by her involvement in women’s activism in Australia and Korea. Her areas of expertise include women’s movements, women’s policy, North Korean female defectors, migrants, sex workers, and violence against women. Dr. Jung’s research has been published in academic journals (Hecate, Asian Survey, Asian Journal of Women’s Studies, and International Review of Korean Studies) and as book chapters in Women’s Movements: Flourishing or in Abeyance (Routledge, 2008) and The Work of Policy: an International Survey (Lexington, 2006). She has also published a co-authored book Sex Trafficking or Shadow Tourism? (Lambert Academic Publishing, 2010). Her most recent book Practicing Feminism in South Korea: Sexual Violence and the Women’s Movement (Routledge, 2013).

Bronwen Dalton_1Dr. Bronwen Dalton has a BA degree from the ANU, an MA from Yonsei University, and a PhD from the University of Oxford (2001). She is the Director of the Masters of Not-for-Profit and Community Management Program at the University of Technology, Sydney; the Board Member of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs’ Australia-Korea Foundation; and Regional Vice-President, Oceania of the International Council of Voluntarism & Civil Society. Dr. Dalton has conducted extensive research in the field of North Korean Studies and published a number of journal articles on North Korean defectors, gender relations, and international NGOs in North Korea. Together with Dr. Kyung-Ja Jung, she co-authored the book Sex Trafficking or Shadow Tourism? (Lambert Academic Publishing, 2010).

LP_photo_2007_minimizedDr Leonid Petrov graduated from the Department of Oriental Studies, St. Petersburg State University in 1994, where he majored in Korean History and Language. Between 1996 and 2002, Leonid Petrov worked on a doctoral thesis “Socio-economic School and the Formation of North Korean Official Historiography” at the ANU. Between 2003 and 2007, Dr. Petrov taught Korean History at the Intercultural Institute of California in San Francisco, and Korean Economy at Keimyung University in Daegu; he acted as Chair of Korean Studies at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po) in France. Between 2009 and 2012, he taught Korean History and Language at the University of Sydney. Currently, Dr. Petrov teaches Cross-cultural Management and other business-related courses at the International College of Management, Sydney. He is also a visiting fellow at the Australian National University.

Public shaming expected for North Korean official

4 02 2010

ABC Radio Australia (February 4, 2010)

Presenter: Bill Bainbridge
Speakers: Dr Bronwen Dalton, Korea specialist, University of Technology Sydney; Chun Hae-sung, South Korean Unification Ministry spokesman; Erica Kang, director, International Network for Good Friends

A senior North Korean finance official has been sacked, after overseeing the country’s disastrous currency revaluation. Under a decree issued last November, old banknotes were swapped for new ones, at a rate of 100 to one. But the amount which could be exchanged was restricted, effectively wiping out many people’s savings and causing widespread anger. South Korea’s intelligence agency says the senior official in charge, Pak Nam-Ki, has been absent from public activities since early January. It’s been reported the official will be put on trial amid a wave of recriminations over the policy.

BAINBRIDGE: It was part of Pak Nam-Ki’s job to keep the planned currency revaluation completely secret. But just before the decree was made official some well connected North Koreans engaged in a frenzy of currency exchange designed to pre-empt the loss in value of their savings. Bronwen Dalton, of the University of Technology Sydney, says that may be why the man responsible for implementing the policy has now fallen out of favour. Alternatively, she says, it may be designed to calm public fury over the policy.

DALTON: There’s been a great deal of social unrest following the currency revaluation and also the ban on the use of foreign currency and the redenomination-revaluation effectively wiped out many people’s savings.

BAINBRIDGE: The development has South Korea worried over the prospect of more unrest and division in the unstable north. Chun Hae-sung is a spokesman for the South Korean Unification Ministry.

CHUN: The South Korean government has a very deep interest in North Korea’s situation after the currency reform, and we are currently examining the situation thoroughly. However, we believe it is a little early to make an exact judgment about the result.

BAINBRIDGE: But it’s clear the policy has sparked rampant inflation and food shortages. Seoul-based human rights organisation Good Friends says prices of many staple foods like rice and corn are doubling on a weekly basis. Erica Kang the director of the International Network for Good Friends.

KANG: Because of very, very high inflation on goods and especially on food people are unable to access any food, and particularly there aren’t any markets, the real market activity going on, even if there is food it’s very, very hard to access it because it’s very dear indeed.

BAINBRIDGE: Bronwen Dalton says while the state once provided an alternative to markets it can no longer afford to supply its people with basic foods leaving ordinary North Koreans with few options.

DALTON: The latest reports are that 80 per cent of household income and at least half the calories of North Koreans now come from the market system and by banning the market system and wiping out savings you’ve effectively removed access to food for millions and millions of people.

BAINBRIDGE: Despite the dire situation the United Nation’s World Food Programme is struggling to raise relief funds for the North. Major donors — including South Korea and the United States — refused to help in protest at its second nuclear test in May last year. By the end of 2009 the WFP had only reached 18 percent of its target of 492 million dollars in relief funds for the communist North. Nonetheless Bronwen Dalton says the regime is determined to crack down on the presence of private markets.

DALTON: While we’ve seen countries like Vietnam and China experiment with a market economy, North Korea, I think correctly, sees the spread market relations as a real challenge to the capacity of the regime to continue. It’s simply too rigid a system to allow any independent economic activity. Even the slightest of independent decision making which involves movement of people and goods challenges the incredibly tight grip the regime to date has had on daily life.

BAINBRIDGE: Dr Dalton says food market have been forced to go underground and can only continue to operate by bribing officials to turn a blind eye. As for the hapless Mr Pak – she says he could well be heading for a public humiliation to pay for regime’s failed policy.

DALTON: The strategy might be to unite the public dissatisfaction with the move by uniting against this one figurehead and hopefully unloading the discontent upon that person – many hours of televised trials and humiliations.