Displaying North Korean Children: From Local to Global Memories

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) looms large in international political and security spheres because of its harsh domestic dictatorship as well as its pursuit of nuclear weapons. It is a country that is difficult to access physically because of its controlled borders, and the evolution of North Korean society is clouded by the propaganda that is routinely dispatched by the government. As a result of the state’s focus on militarization and regime survival, specific population groups are often ignored in broader debates about North Korean society, yet they provide important insights into the paradoxical nature of the North Korean society; children are one such group. While there is plenty of evidence, gathered by NGOs and IGOs, that North Korean children suffer from both physical and emotional violence in North Korea, they are also celebrated and revered by the government: the Mangyongdae Children’s Palace in Pyongyang, for instance, is seemingly dedicated to children’s after-school activities and well-being. Drawing on fieldwork conducted in the DPRK during International Children’s Day in 2019, this article examines the place of children in the construction of North Korean national identity and exposes how children are both celebrated and utilized to become “memorable,” supporting the North Korean government’s survival goals via large-stage installations such as the gymnastic Mass Games.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-101
Journal Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures
Volume13
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 Mar 2022

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