September 29

History Workshop: Prof. C. Harrison Kim

“War Orphans, Capitalist Family, and Postwar North Korea’s State-Form”
Prof. C. Harrison Kim
Friday, September 29
3:00 – 4:30 PM
Sakamaki Hall A-201, History Department Seminar Room
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While a war raged on the peninsula, the North Korean state began, in November 1951, sending orphans and young adults abroad. The first group went to Hungary, and over the next decade, as many as ten thousand settled throughout Eastern Europe. Toward the end of 1950s, North Korea called them back home. The circulation of North Korea’s children of war evokes some observations. First, their movement was a part of global circulation of a quarter-million children after World War II. Second, the circulation of children is North Korea’s moment of critique of the capitalist family. The placement of children not with families but at foreign institutions was a rejection of the private adoption market, which North Korea saw as a new system of exploitation. And third, the state’s appropriation of the children’s lives was carried out as large amounts of loans arrived from the countries that took these children. In this process, the children attained the economic function of potentially productive workers within North Korea’s production regime, if not as symbols of collateral for the loans.

Banner image: History Workshop Theme Image (same series) – Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series