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Nam Center Colloquium Series: "Everlasting Fraternal Friendship: North Korea and the End of Communism"

Friday, October 25, 2013
4:00 AM
Michigan League, Henderson Room, 3rd Floor

In May 1984, North Korean leader Kim Il Sung took an extensive official tour of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, reaffirming North Korea’s ties to the Soviet bloc and the “friendship” among socialist states. Within a few years, the Berlin Wall had fallen and the Soviet Union had collapsed. Yet despite its economic dependence on the Eastern bloc, North Korea survived the collapse of communist regimes in Europe and Mongolia. Information from the archives of North Korea’s former communist partners enables us to understand Pyongyang’s complex relationship to the socialist bloc, the ambiguous end of communism in 1989 – 91, and the reasons for North Korea’s continued existence.

Our guest lecturer, Charles Armstrong, is the Korea Foundation Professor of Korean Studies in the Social Sciences, Department of History at Colombia University. His new book, “Tyranny of the Weak: North Korea and the World, 1950-1990” (Cornell University Press), has just been published and his Modern East Asia volume for the Wiley-Blackwell series "Concise History of the Modern World" is forthcoming in 2014, adding to his already significant body of research on Asia. His next research project is concerned with trans-Pacific Cold War culture and U.S.-East Asian relations. He is a frequent commentator in the U.S. and foreign mass media on contemporary Korean, East Asian, and Asian-American affairs. Professor Armstrong received his BA from Yale, MA from the London School of Economics, and PhD from the University of Chicago.