For North Korea, author warns be careful what you wish for

Wed Feb 10, 2010 9:37am EST
 
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By Jonathan Thatcher

SEOUL (Reuters Life!) - North Korean propaganda may seem absurd, but writer B.R. Myers advises the international community to pay the grandiose statements far more attention in dealing with what is perhaps the world's most reclusive state.

Myers, a professor at South Korea's Dongseo University, has spent years studying the North's ideology, which is the focus of his book "The Cleanest Race: How North Koreans See Themselves and Why It Matters," published last month.

A fluent Korean speaker, Myers is also a contributing editor of the Atlantic, for which he writes literary criticism.

Myers spoke to Reuters via email about his book:

Q: You've spent several years studying North Korea. What drew you to the subject?

A: "I got my master's degree in Soviet studies in 1989 -- months before the Berlin Wall fell and rendered the degree useless. Since I had minored in Korean studies, it seemed like a good idea to begin specializing in North Korea."

Q: North Korea is an intensely secretive state and heavily restricts information to its own citizens, let alone outsiders. How do you cope with that wall of secrecy?

A: "My main area of focus is North Korean propaganda, which can now be researched very easily at the North Korea Resource Center in Seoul. North Korean newspapers, magazines, even television dramas, all these things are very easy to access even when outside the country. This makes it all the harder for me to understand why the West has so far paid so little attention to it."   Continued...

 
<p>North Koreans offer flowers at the giant bronze statue of state founder and "Great Leader" Kim-Il Sung in Pyongyang, July 27, 2009. REUTERS/KCNA</p>