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The Korea Now Podcast

Aug 30, 2020

This episode of the Korea Now podcast features an interview that Jed Lea-Henry conducted with Kim Sunghee. They speak about North Korea’s ‘military-first’ ideology, the historical period from which it emerged, what the ideology entails, the transformation that took place in the minds of everyday North Koreans, the way that workers and soldiers became indistinguishable, how this ideology was developed through literature, what this literature looked like and the affect that it had, and importantly a close look at Song Sangwŏn’s ‘Taking up bayonets’.

Kim Sunghee is a Social Science Korea (SSK) Research Professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, South Korea. Sunghee also teaches literary theory and criticism, Asian literature, and writing at the Underwood International College at Yonsei University, and the Department of Korean Language and Literature at Korea University. In 2017, he earned his Ph.D. in East Asian Languages and Civilizations from Harvard University. Sunghee’s ongoing research interests include literary theory, authoritarianism, modern Korean literature; North Korean history; and the history of emotions.

*** ‘The Prosody of Working and the Narrative of Martyrdom: Daily Life and Death in North Korean Literature during the Great Famine and the Early Military-First Age (1994-2002)’ (

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