May 22, 2024

Book review – Visual Politics and North Korea: Seeing is Believing

Study underlines the connection between visual culture and international relations, offering new insights into North Korea

Recently a stop motion slide show appeared on the Internet, depicting Pyongyang as a city bustling with activity. This visual experiment makes pair with an ambitious project, called a Crow's Eye on the Peninsula, which premiered at the Biennale exhibition in Venice earlier this summer, winning first prize. Both instances testify to a public interest in North Korea that goes beyond military action and political commentary, an interest to understand why North Korea is so often depicted as mysterious in spite of a growing amount of studies, direct testimonies and visual sources. North Korea, as a country and a topic of studies, indeed deserves better questions and David Shim's Visual Politics and North Korea (London, Routledge, 2014) goes in this direction.

This is an essential work for anyone seriously interested in North Korea. It is perhaps not as widely known as it should be, and indeed its current retail price will not help; the book nonetheless represents a much-awaited addition to the field of North Korean studies.

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