Changing American Perceptions of North Korea since 1948

This presentation will examine how portrayals of North Korea by the U.S. government and popular media diminished the possibility of diplomatic cooperation between the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, North Korea) over the second half of the twentieth century. It will specifically argue that policymakers and journalists, among other observers in U.S. society, primarily made sense of the DPRK’s often-brutal actions by describing it as either a puppet of the Soviet Union and China or as an irrational actor incapable of pragmatic dialogue. These reductive caricatures—a product, in part, of evolving ideologies in American society related to the Cold War, foreign policy, and race—blinded policymakers to the nationalistic motives behind North Korea’s decision-making and led the general public to misunderstand events in Korea. While analyzing how intertwined links between culture and national identity influenced American foreign policy in East Asia, this discussion thus highlights the fundamental misperceptions that so often shaped U.S. decision-making vis-à-vis the DPRK since the Korean War.

1:45 PM I Arrivals
2:00 PM I Discussion

Limited Seating Available. Register Here.


All events take place at The Korea Society's conference facilities, unless noted. The Korea Society is located at 950 Third Ave, 8th Floor (East 57th Street & Third Avenue). Please call 212-759-7525 for more information.

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