A common assumption is that North Korea is a "Hermit Kingdom" that froze in time some decades ago. There are certainly many things about North Korea that have persisted, including the all-encompassing personality cult, the brutal repression, and the pervasive fear. In the last six years, however, since Kim Jong Un came to power and predictions of imminent collapse immediately followed, North Korea has changed in significant ways.
In the course of her reporting on North Korea, Anna Fifield , the 2018 Shorenstein Journalism Award recipient, has watched a leader who is much bolder and more audacious than his father ever was. Sometimes that boldness comes out in executions of family members and launching of missiles. But recently, it has manifested itself as summit diplomacy with enemy leaders. Kim Jong Un is now trying to re-position himself as a responsible, if nuclear-armed, global leader. He has adeptly accelerated the nuclear program and allowed a class of nouveaux riches to flourish.
An often-overlooked fact about North Korea, reports Fifield, is that life there has been getting slightly better for many people, in relative terms. Over the last several years, she has been struck by the number of North Korean defectors she met who have escaped not because they were starving, but because they were disillusioned.
Why have these and other changes occurred in North Korea? And how does the current diplomatic engagement with the North present an opportunity for us to help the country’s transformation?
On this panel discussion, celebrating the 2018 Shorenstein Journalism Award, the award winner, Anna Fifield, the Beijing bureau chief for The Washington Post , will consider these and other questions, drawing on her long career in journalism covering Asia and focusing on North Korea.
is the Beijing bureau chief for The Washington Post
, responsible for coverage of greater China. She joined The Washington Post
in July 2014 as Tokyo Bureau Chief, writing about Japan and the two Koreas for four years, with a concentration on North Korea. She has been on 12 reporting trips to North Korea and regularly talks about North Korea on international television and radio, and at conferences.
Before joining The Washington Post , Fifield was a fellow at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, where she studied how change happens in closed societies. Previously, she was a correspondent for the Financial Times for 13 years, based in London, Sydney, Seoul, Tehran, Beirut, and finally in Washington D.C., where she was White House correspondent and covered the 2012 President election campaign.
Fifield comes from New Zealand and has a B.A. in English literature from Victoria University and a post-graduate diploma in journalism from Canterbury University.
is the 2018-19 Koret Fellow in the Korea Program at Stanford’s Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (APARC). Abrahamian has been Executive Director and Director of Research for Choson Exchange, a nonprofit that has trained over 2000 North Koreans in entrepreneurship and economic policy since 2010. His work for Choson Exchange and other projects has taken him to North Korea 30 times. He has also lived in Myanmar, where he conducted field research for his recent book, North Korea and Myanmar: Divergent Paths
(McFarland, 2018), which asks why Myanmar came to end its isolation, while North Korea has not done so yet.
Abrahamian is an honorary fellow at Macquarie University, Sydney, and an adjunct fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute. He is a frequent contributor to 38North.org, a website focused on North Korea analysis, and is a member of the US National Committee on North Korea. He holds a PhD from the University of Ulsan and an MA from the University of Sussex in International Relations.
is New York correspondent of the Los Angeles Times
, formerly head of the bureaus in Beijing and Seoul. She is the author of Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea
and Logavina Street: Life and Death in a Sarajevo Neighborhood
. Demick has won Britain’s Samuel Johnson Award for best nonfiction, the George Polk Award and the Robert F. Kennedy Award, as well as the Osborn Elliot Prize for Journalism from the Asia Society and the Overseas Press Club, the American Academy of Diplomacy’s Arthur Ross Award and Stanford University’s Shorenstein Journalism Award for best Asia reporting. She has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. She was a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Yong Suk Lee
is the SK Center Fellow at Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and Deputy Director of the Korea Program at the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center. Lee’s main fields of research are in labor economics, technology and entrepreneurship, and urban economics. Some of the issues he has studied include technology and labor markets, entrepreneurship and economic growth, entrepreneurship education, and education and inequality. He is also interested in both the North and South Korean economy and has examined how economic sanctions affect economic activity in North Korea, and how management practices and education policy affect inequality in South Korea. His current research focuses on how the new wave of digital technologies will affect labor, education, entrepreneurship, and productivity. Lee’s research has been published in both Economics and Management journals. He also regularly contributes to policy reports and opinion pieces on contemporary issues surrounding both North and South Korea.
Prior to joining Stanford, Lee was an assistant professor of economics at Williams College in Massachusetts. He received his PhD in Economics from Brown University, a Master of Public Policy from Duke University, and bachelor's degree and master's degree in architecture from Seoul National University.
About the Shorenstein Journalism Award:
The Shorenstein Journalism Award
which carries a cash prize of $10,000, honors a journalist not only for a distinguished body of work, but also for the particular way in which that work has helped readers to understand the complexities of Asia. The award, established in 2002, was named after Walter H. Shorenstein, the philanthropist, activist, and businessman who endowed two institutions that are focused respectively on Asia and on the press: the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (Shorenstein APARC) in the Freeman Spogli Institute at Stanford University, and the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy in the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. In 2010, Shorenstein APARC re-envisioned the award in recognition of the fact that Asia has served as a crucible for the role of the press in democratization in places such as South Korea, Taiwan, India, Pakistan, and Indonesia. Since then the award has also recognized Asian journalists who, in addition to their professional excellence and contribution to knowledge of Asia, have helped defend and build a free media in Asia.
Open to the public
RSVP required by Monday, Nov 12, 2018