Open seminar on North Korea on October 16 in Lögberg 101

Open seminar hosted by the Institute of International Affairs at the University of Iceland and the Icelandic Centre for Asian Studies from 12:00 to 13:00 on Thursday October 16 at Lögberg 101 at the University of Iceland

Demonization or Dialogue? Towards an Understanding and Engagement with North Korea

North Korea is arguably the most isolated and probably the most scorned country in the world at present. Western media portrays it as a hermit kingdom ruled by an outdated, tyrannical and unpredictable communist dictatorship whose clandestine nuclear programme constantly threatens its neighbours. International politicians generally approach North Korea with much hostility. In this brief talk, Geir Helgesen will summarize his long-standing personal experience of this seemingly enigmatic society, describe his encounters with North Korean representatives and present his views on the most pragmatic approaches to understand and engage with North Korea should the eventual aim be its integration in the world community.

Geir Helgesen is Director of the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS), which is based at Copenhagen University. In his research as cultural sociologist, he has been closely monitoring the development on the Korean peninsula for the last three decades, focusing in particular on political culture and its manifestations in the various social institutions. He has composed a number of reports on North Korea for the Foreign Ministries in both Denmark and Norway, and communicates regularly with Danish and Norwegian media about the situation on the Korean peninsula. Among his publications are Politics, Culture and Self. East Asian and North European Attitudes (edited with Søren Risbjerg Thomesen, NIAS Press, 2006), Ideas, Society and Politics in Northeast Asia and Northern Europe (edited with Ras Tind Nielsen, NIAS Press, 2012) and Dialogue with North Korea? Preconditions for Talking Human Rights With a Hermit Kingdom (written with Hatla Thelle, NIAS Press, 2013).

Moderator: Dr. Geir Sigurðsson, Director of the Icelandic Centre for Asian Studies.

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The seminar will be held in English and open to all.