Roundtable on the Leiden Initiative on Northern Korea


The roundtable is organized by Prof. Remco Breuker and Dr. Koen De Ceuster (Leiden University Institute for Area Studies) and the International Institute for Asian Studies.

The roundtable is meant to provide a forum in which various experts on the Korean peninsula, in particular its northern part, get together and comment on the Leiden Initiative on Northern Korea, to be launched on that day. 

The attached introduction has more details, but the Leiden Initiative on Northern Korea proposes to present a spatial, historical and analytical framework for northern Korea which will suitable contextualize North Korea instead of treating it as the reified symbol of unintelligible oddness it often understood to be. We seek new avenues of understanding northern Korea across accepted political, historical and theoretical boundaries. Paraphrasing Geremie Barmé, we would like to call for a robust engagement with Korea and the Koreaphone world in all its complexity, be it local, regional or global. And in particular with the north by promoting a deeper, more textured understanding of the Korean peninsula in combination with open dialogues with scholars and practitioners of different backgrounds and expertise. Ultimately we seek to establish academic and human relationships with northern Korea as we engage in intellectual, academic, cultural and personal conversations with North Koreans: academically, but also culturally, politically, economically.

This is an ambitious undertaking. None of our goals or methods are set in stone. The participants of the Roundtable will provide critical expert advise on how to make the Initiative on Northern Korea a viable presence within and without Korean Studies as an academic platform for research and teaching on northern Korea (emphatically going back into the historical past of the northern part of the peninsula) and a social presence which may mediate between the citizens of contemporary nations in Europe (mainly though not exclusively) and the contemporary state of North Korea.