Using Comics to Understand North Korea

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We’ve covered how comic books have been used as propaganda AGAINST North Korea.  Heinz Insu Fenkl, a literature professor at the State University of New York (SUNY) at New Paltz is using comic books to understand more ABOUT North Korea.  The professor spends hours translating North Korean comic books call “gruim-chaek” in North Korea that he picks up in shops in China and from colleagues who travel to Pyongyang.

The comic books the professor has gathered tend to be spy thrillers with loud Americans our Japanese as the enemies.  The comics are in black and white and poor paper quality.  To be expected in a country short on resources.

The books are also designed to instill the father of North Korea, Kim Il-sung’s, philosophy of Juche — radical self-reliance of the state, added Nick Bonner, founder of Koryo Tours, an English-language tour company in Beijing that takes visitors to North Korea several times each year.

Fenkl is planning is planning a massive web archive to share his studies to the world.  You can read more about this at the Global Post which has some examples.