July 03, 2022

Why language isn’t all that matters when it comes to N.Korea studies

Relying on work of others is widespread in academia, so what's wrong with using translations?

The Austrian-British philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein remarked that ‘the limits of one’s language is the limit of their world’ – and there is a certain truth to be found in this. So it was with some interest that I read a recent piece by Fyodor Tertitskiy in which he took rather considerable aim at those that study North Korea without having a functional working knowledge of the Korean language itself.

“People who call themselves scholars” are “English-only pseudo-professionals” that would be less able to disentangle the current situation than a “Korean janitor” employed to clean up after conferences finish, he said.