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North Korea: Modernization Through Globalization

Autor:   •  January 25, 2016  •  Research Paper  •  1,957 Words (8 Pages)  •  517 Views

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North Korea: Modernization through Globalization

Introduction

        With the advent of increased mobility in an era of globalization, it is often easy to forget that not all movement of “cultural flows” is equal. Indo and Rosaldo (2008) point to material infrastructure, which contains “anything from juridical frameworks, governmental strategies, and regulatory mechanisms to highways, airplane routes, and communications technologies,” as an inhibiting factor in the movement of peoples and ideas. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, often referred to as North Korea, has used material infrastructure to prevent the inflow and outflow of peoples and ideas. Built upon the “Juche” ideology of self-reliance and a strong military presence, North Korea has isolated itself (David-West 2011).

        The increased movement of ideas and cultural commodities leads to an interesting point to consider: is North Korea’s material infrastructure preventing the movement of ideas and commodities as it intends? Although mainstream media outlets report the “modernization of North Korea” (Kirk 2012), the secrecy surrounding the DPRK makes analysis of the nation difficult.

        The objective of this research would be to explore how modernization, working with and against material infrastructure as defined by Indo and Rosaldo, is changing the landscape of North Korean society. However, the very material infrastructure this research will explore limits the effectiveness of participant-observation research. Observing North Korean society necessitates a different style of research. By interviewing DPRK refugees now living in South Korea, the United States, China, and Russia, I will be able to explore North Korean society from the outside. In coalition with interviews, observing the DPRK’s national media outlets, national social media (such as the official DPRK Twitter and YouTube pages) allows me to observe the perspective of the North Korea government, which is often the instigator of material infrastructure. In addition, although travel to the DPRK will not yield observation of the people of North Korea, it will allow me to participate with and observe the material infrastructure of the nation. Also, although interaction with the people of North Korea will be limited, observation of the modernization of physical structures in North Korea will be allowed.

        With the increased belief that the DPRK is struggling to hold onto its Juche ideology, speculation is arising that the reunification of North and South Korea is more likely. To prepare for the reunification of the two nations, it is necessary to understand the impact modernization has had on the DPRK, and how outside globalization will impact the integration of North Korean citizens into world culture.

Background and Significance

        Following the signing of the Korean Armistice Agreement on July 27, 1953, North and South Korea separated itself in ideology, politics, and economy. The southern nation, supported by Japan and the United States, and the northern nation, supported by China and the then Soviet Union have only been separated for a short time in their long history. In that short span, families have been separated by the 38th parallel—the military border between the two nations—and are not allowed to communicate. Over time, as the countries continued to move in opposite directions, tensions strained between the nations. However, in the decades after the Korean war (reported as lately as June 2013), talks between the two nations—working towards “reunifying” the north and south—often to no avail. The south—focused upon the “Western” principles of capitalism and free markets, has grown in its international relevance.

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