A new summer school program studying North Korean culture is in production and is expected to be hosted in York. The summer program has been called “the first of its kind” and allows students to study North Korean arts, literature and propaganda.
The program is scheduled to begin in May 2022 and will last two weeks, coordinated by Professor Thomas Klassen of the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies (LA&PS).
The course is free for students in order to be accessible to the greatest number of interested people. Everything necessary for the application process which is located here. Funding for this summer school comes from the Korea Office for Research and Education (KORE) in York, which is funded by the Academy of Korean Studies. Additional funding is provided by LA&PS.
“There are courses and programs on North Korea that look at politics, history, and security studies. But far fewer opportunities to learn about art, music, and literature in North Korea,” Klassen says of his inspiration behind coordinating this unique course.
The summer school will be taught by two experts in North Korean culture: Immanuel Kim, professor at George Washington University, and Nicholas Bonner, founder of Koryo Studio. “The two instructors will share their knowledge of how North Korea developed its own culture and the main characteristics,” Klassen said.
This course is of great importance because of its uniqueness in the subject. “Few academic institutions in the humanities and social sciences have taken North Korea seriously, except for departments of international affairs, economics or political science. The fact that so many students have enrolled indicates also the general public’s desire to learn more about North Korea,” Kim said, regarding the importance of a course like this.
The uniqueness of the summer course is exemplified by its candidates from around the world who agree and echo Klassen’s and Kim’s statements. When asked why they were interested in such a course, the answers clearly show the same mentality of everyone involved.
Boyuan Bridge, a graduate student with an MFA in film production who applied for the program, said, “I am interested in the history and art of film and cultural production in North Korea. contemporary, and to better understand how the universal theme of individual identity and public-private personality extends to North Korean cinema, literature, and visual arts.
His statement is echoed by another of the program applicants, Jacob Lundquist, a masters student at York who applied to the summer program: “People who take northern fiction and art seriously don’t see it as a way to ‘remove that evil diet’ or other nonsense, but to really understand the inner workings of their society in a way that English Studies tries to do with ours.
This course serves as a way to connect with a country that has been disconnected from the rest of the world for so long, emphasizing the importance of understanding all aspects of a country’s culture to fully understand how it works. A course like this is of great importance due to its uniqueness and the lack of information the rest of the world has about North Korean life and culture.
Yilin Guo, a Master of Arts student, echoes this statement: “My research focuses on China-North Korea relations, so I think this summer program will be useful for my research paper. North Korea is a rare subject in North America. I think this summer course can give me a different view of North Korea.
The reasons candidates gave for why they wanted to apply for this course echo Klassen’s thoughts on what inspired him to create a course like this, where he further states, “We know so little about life in North Korea. What do ordinary people read, watch and listen to? »