Gangnam at the Daedong River : the Life of the Newly Rich North Koreans
Lecturer: Andrei Lankov
Professor, Kookmin University
While the world media tends to describe North Korea as the “world’s last Stalinist state”, such descriptions overlook its current reality. North Korea of the 21st century is not a Communist state as depicted by historical rhetoric; rather, it is essentially a country with small economy and fast growing entrepreneurial class. The ranks of the newly rich in North Korea not only include the Party and state officials, but also many entrepreneurial individuals who accumulated wealth throughout the decades of the crisis of disintegration. These people are not shy about demonstrating their wealth either. While on paper many old regulations exist, the new rich happily ignore them. They buy houses valued at $100,000, they drive (or, more accurately, are driven) in expensive European cars and they appear in public with beautiful mistresses while still spending a small fortune on educating their children – in other words, they live the lifestyle not so dissimilar to the lives of people with the same background in other parts of the globe. Though a few things are still off limits to them such as foreign trips, and though their wealth pails in comparison to that of the global upper class, the wealthy elite in North Korea live vastly different lives than their humble compatriots and they feel proud about it.
Andrei Lankov is a graduate of Leningrad State University. In the 1980s, he studied at Kim Il-sung University in North Korea. He was also a professor at Australian National University and since the mid-2000s has been employed by Kookmin University in South Korea. He is a well-known scholar of North Korea. Prof. Lankov has been in many places— from bars in Dandong to conference halls in Washington. His spectrum of interests is quite broad— from the history of old Seoul to modern South and North Korea. Prof. Lankov has written several books and is recently finishing new one. Currently Prof. Lankov is studying North Korean private enterprises, bazaars and other manifestations of the North Korean market economy, while conducting interviews with refugees from the DPRK. He considers North Korea’s new market system as an extremely fascinating subject.
Education room (1st floor), Seoul Museum of History 55 Saemunan-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Date and Time
June 12th , 2017 (Mon) 11:30 A.M. to 13:00 P.M
Contact (Registration required)
T: 02-745-5878 F: 02-736-5878