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A Different PoV: A Plea for Academic Rigor on North Korea


On Tuesday, March 20th, we went to the Social Justice Institute (SJI) at Crawford Hall at CWRU to attend a program titled "A Different PoV: A Plea for Academic Rigor on North Korea" which was presented as part of the SJI's research lunch series.

Our guest lecturer was Dr. Merose Hwang, Ph.D., Associate Professor of History and the Asian Studies Coordinator at Hiram College. We had met and visited with Dr. Hwang only a couple of weeks prior at a program put on by the Cleveland Council of World Affairs on Oman and were glad to make contact with her again.

Dr. Hwang shared with us her beliefs that in order to understand and negotiate successfully with North Korea we must:

****""Unravel the Enemy Rhetoric" that has been taking place which depicts the Supreme Leader of North Korea Kim Jung-un as an immature, self-destruction despot and his adversary, President Trump, as a buffoon because this is very counterproductive.

****"Study North Korean Indigenous Resources" because commentators form their own opinions based on what they have learned from such guides as the "North Korean Documentation Project" and these opinions may be misperceptions; therefore we must study these same guides ourselves and form our own opinions. Along these lines, Dr. Hwang provided us with an excellent list of sources.  

****Study North Korean Defensive History and Indigenous Forms of Justice" meaning we need to examine the history of what happened in that region both before and after the Korean War to understand some of the reasons why the leaders of North Korea behave in the manner in which they do. A good example of this is the still-sensitive subject of the atrocities committed in the late 1940's in Jeju Province in South Korea.

****" Find Universal Rhetoric or  Takeaways" or try to find commonalities with the North Korean government and/or its people by seeing them as those who face day-to-day challenges not too much different from our own. In other words, try to divorce ourselves from the notion that it is us vs. them.

Afterwards, all of the participants there on that day had a discussion about what must be done to co-exist successfully with North Korea and options for the future.

Dr. Hwang had never been to North Korea but her ancestry is Korean and she had visited South Korea many times and worked with North Korean specialists/scholars so she had a educated viewpoint of the events that have been taking place in that section of the world. We were grateful for her perspective.


Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC