Discussing the Korean War at AAS 2014

My panel, entitled “Utilizing the Captured Documents: New Perspectives on Society, Institutions, and Foreign Relations in Revolutionary and Wartime North Korea, 1945-1953,” has been accepted for the March 27-30 2014 annual meeting of the Association of Asian Studies.

The panel, organized by Chuck Kraus at George Washington University, will feature Bruce Cumings (the foremost scholar of the war), myself, Chuck Kraus, and Youngjun Kim.

Abstract: From 1945 through 1953, North Korea experienced profound social, political, and economic changes. Our panel, grounded in the captured North Korean documents housed at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland—the only accessible North Korean archive in the world—seeks to answer three questions about North Korea during this climactic period: how and to what extend did North Koreans demonstrate agency under Soviet occupation? How did North Korea interact with and understand foreign countries beyond the Soviet Union, particularly China, the United States, and Japan? How did top-down political decisions mesh with bottom-up social processes in liberated Korea? The three panelists have all examined different areas of the captured documents, and are prepared to speak on what these materials reveal about North Korean institutions, foreign relations, and society. Retelling North Korea’s diplomatic history from the bottom-up, Charles Kraus will focus on the captured documents related to the Overseas Chinese community in North Korea. Adam Cathcart will examine comic art and foreign affairs publications to comment on the world view promoted by the North Korean state during its infancy. Youngjun Kim will frame the armed forces as a microcosm of North Korean society and explore the early development of the Korean People’s Army. Commentator Bruce Cumings, an authoritative voice on the captured documents, will spark the floor’s discussion on what the panel contributes to our understanding of the North Korean revolution as well as the Korean War.

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