Experts from Wellesley, Greater Boston Area, Convene to Discuss North Korea's Human Rights Crisis

April 4, 2013

The eyes of the world are on North Korea. Events at Wellesley next week aim to open the dialogue and create a deeper understanding of the North Korean human rights crisis.

Katharine H.S. Moon, Edith Stix Wasserman Professor of Asian Studies and Professor of Political Science, is an expert on the U.S.-Korea alliance and social movements in Korea and Asia. She is also faculty advisor to Advocates for North Korean Human Rights, or ANKHR, a group of students who, she says, are doing “impressive work on very difficult issues.” ANKHR’s most recent project is a series of panels designed to bring together experts on North Korea from Wellesley and institutions throughout the greater Boston area.

The first panel, titled “War, Peace, or Status Quo? North Korea and New Leadership in East Asia,” took place on April 1. A video of that panel discussion is now available on the College’s YouTube channel. Two more panels follow next week. The first panel, “Defection, Discrimination, Dislocation North Koreans Adapting to South Korea” will take place on Monday, April 8, at 5 pm in PNW 212. The second, “To Speak…Sanctioned and Subversive Speech in North Korea,” will take place on April 9 at 12:30 pm in PNE 239.

The April 8 panel, which is organized by Moon and Sun-Hee Lee, assistant professor of Korean, East Asian Languages and Literatures at Wellesley College, features two anthropologists who are experts on North Korean defectors who will focus on issues related to re-education and adaption in South Korea as refugees who have defected from the North. Moon wrote, “There is much discrimination and dislocation of many types, physical to psychological, that these defectors who are officially South Korean citizens face. Issues… that plague all societies that deal with "alien" populations come into play.” She calls this “a rare opportunity” to hear a scholar from Yonsei University, one of the best in Korea, speak at Wellesley.

The panels are free and open to the public, and offer the community a great opportunity to learn about North Korea. New classes this fall will offer students the opportunity to delve deeper into the topic. For the 2013-2014 academic year, Wellesley will offer new courses on North Korea and U.S. foreign and strategic policy toward the Asia-Pacific. Dr. John Park, who is currently at MIT and formerly of the U.S. Institute of Peace, will teach: “Conflicting Realities of North Korea" and “America’s New Asia-Pacific Strategy.”

Moon has a new book, Protesting America: Democracy and the U.S. Korea Alliance (2013), which explores the idea that Korean activism around U.S. relations is more a result of transformations in domestic politics, including the decentralization of government, the diversification of civil society organizations, and the trans-nationalization of social movements. It is available now from the University of California Press.