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Northeast Asia Peace Initiative

Forum in Bratislava Offers Insight into the North Korean People

Bratislava, Slovakia - In 2012 UPF-Slovakia held two events with a focus on the culture and tradition of Korea as well as the nation's history during the 20th century and current efforts for reunification. This time UPF sought to enlighten the public how North Koreans see themselves and why it is important to understand it.

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From the beginning the topic enjoyed vivid interest. The event was held on June 12, 2013 in a centrally located facility in downtown Bratislava. The lecture hall was filled over capacity, and more chairs were brought in to seat the 60 participants, among them many who came for the first time. A Slovak expert of totalitarian history said that similar events usually draw only half that number. The program started with a picture show by the Slovak photographer Roman Harak, who had visited North Korea twice during recent years. Besides the obligatory scenes like the offering of flowers at the monumental statue of Kim Il Sung, Harak was able to catch glimpses of daily life in the totalitarian state. Viewing these pictures it became clear that the population needs help. For Roman Harak's collection of photos of North Korea, click here.

The second part featured the newly published book The Cleanest Race, by North Korea analyst Brian R. Myers, which has been translated into Czech language. The publisher, Dr. Juraj Lajda, explained why it is so important to understand the mindset of the North Korean leaders and why peacemaking initiatives fail so often. He gave an outline of the book's content and also explained the symbols of the propaganda media. Book author Myers analyzes in depth the official myths focusing on the notion of Koreans’ unique moral purity. The most important lesson to be learned is that since popular support for the regime today derives almost exclusively from pride in its military might, Pyongyang can neither be cajoled nor bullied into giving up its nuclear program.

At the end there were many questions asked, and there was great interest to buy the new book. Many guests congratulated the organizers, UPF-Slovakia Secretary General Milos Klas and his wife, Barbara, for organizing such an informative evening.

For reviews of the original English publication of The Cleanest Race: How the North Koreans See Themselves and Why It Matters, click here.


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