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The Politics of North Korea(n) Culture


Admission requirements

  • Familiarity with the history and politics of North and South Korea;

  • Interest in the politics of culture and cultural production;

  • Openness to controversial ideas and willingness to debate;

  • Knowledge of the Korean language is advantageous.


North Korea intrigues. This fascination is partly a result of the fact that standard approaches often fail to make adequate sense of it. In this seminar, we zoom in on North Korea as a state where propaganda is a core function of the state and culture is subordinate to narratives of revolution and exemplary leadership. But at the same time, we look also at the cultural counter-narratives presented in opposition to the North Korean state by “defectors” – North Koreans who have migrated abroad. Accordingly, this seminar analyses verbal and visual narratives in both North Korean and defector-migrant literature, film, posters and paintings. It also pays attention to the political and economic organization of cultural production, primarily in North and South Korea.

Course objectives

  • To analyze North Korean state and counter-state cultural artifacts and productions;

  • To write critical reviews that place artifacts and productions in their proper context;

  • To develop collaboration and presentation skills;

  • To engage in critical discussion and debate of conflicting ideas about North Korea;

  • To hone heuristic skills: locate and critically evaluate North Korea-related source materials.


The timetable is available on the Asianstudies website

Mode of instruction


Course Load

  • classroom participation: 26hrs;

  • seminar preparation: 65hrs

  • writing assignments: 12hrs

  • presentation preparation: 6hrs

  • essay: 31hrs

Total: 140 hours



  • 1 assignment – critical review (1000 words) of a North Korea-related cultural product (30%);

  • 1 presentation (10mins; subject TBD; 10%);

  • 1 final essay (4,000 words; 60%)

The final grade is the weighted average of all components. To pass the course, students must receive an overall mark of 5.5 (=6) or higher and a passing grade for the paper assignment (5.5 or higher).


Revised and expanded (8,000 words for 10 EC and 6,000 words for 5 EC) version of the final paper to be handed in by February 1.

Exam review

Students may request an oral elucidation of the assessment within 30 days after publication of the grade.


Blackboard will be intensively used.

Reading list

Reading list to be posted on Blackboard


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch


Christopher Green MA