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June 5, 2007

Two Lectures By Kluge Fellow Suk-Young Kim Offer Insight on North Korean Culture and Politics

Suk-Young Kim, a fellow at the John W. Kluge Center, Library of Congress, will present two programs that provide insight on North Korean culture, politics and the leadership of Kim Jong-il, on June 26 and June 27.

The first program, titled "Kim Jong-il and North Korean Film," will begin at noon on Tuesday, June 26, in Room 119 of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C.

The second program, titled "For the Eyes of the Dear Leader: Fashion and Body Politics in North Korean Visual Arts," will begin at noon on Wednesday, June 27, in Room 119 of the Thomas Jefferson Building.

Both events are free and open to the public, but space is limited. No tickets or reservations are required.

The world’s understanding of Kim Jong-il is often linked to his personal obsession with film, but little is known about how and why film serves as a window through which the outside world can glimpse the enigmatic North Korean leader. The talk on June 26 explores Kim Jong-il’s relationship with film on various levels, such as the filial duty to protect his father’s legacy and desire to gain political capital through artistic achievement on both domestic and international fronts. Rarely seen film clips—selected from a wide variety of genres, such as political propaganda, family melodrama, musical, children’s animation and Hong Kong-style martial arts films—will be shown.

In "For the Eyes of the Dear Leader: Fashion and Body Politics in North Korean Visual Arts," Kim will explore how visual media, such as theater, film, magazine illustrations, paintings and posters represent and propagate the ideal body in North Korea. According to Kim, North Korea's political leaders have been preoccupied with how to dress people. Fashion, especially women's fashion, is seen as a national project, where beauty and politics meld to cultivate bodily discipline. As in many communist states, North Korean designers have been drawn to masculine, military styles that seem to embody revolutionary spirit. But women's fashion in North Korea also openly allows for a contradictory sense of traditional femininity.

Kim is an assistant professor in the Department of Dramatic Art and Dance at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research interests span a wide range of academic disciplines, such as East Asian performance, gender and nationalism, Korean cultural studies, Russian literature and Slavic folklore. Her research has been acknowledged by the International Federation for Theatre Research New Scholar’s Prize (2004), the American Society for Theater Research Fellowship (2006) and the Library of Congress Kluge Fellowship (2006-07). She is currently working on a book project titled "Illusive Utopia: Theater and Film in North Korea," which explores how the state produced propaganda performances intersect with everyday life practice in North Korea. Another book project documents the testimony of a North Korean labor camp survivor.

Through a generous endowment from John W. Kluge, the Library of Congress established the Kluge Center in 2000 to bring together the world’s best thinkers to stimulate, energize and distill wisdom from the Library’s rich resources and to interact with policymakers in Washington. For more information on fellowships, grants and programs offered by the Kluge Center, visit www.loc.gov/kluge.

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PR 07-126
06/05/07
ISSN 0731-3527

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