2013-2014 Colloquium Series

The Tourism Studies Working Group is pleased to announce


Lisa Min
PhD Student, Anthropology
University of California, Berkeley

Friday, November 8, 4:00 PM
Gifford Room, 221 Kroeber Hall
University of California, Berkeley

Counter to the established image of North Korea as either a threatening and mad state or as one riddled with enigma and kitsch, tourism to North Korea offers travelers a chance to see the country with their own eyes. Tourists go there for various reasons, with curiosity, with hopes of catching a glimpse of everyday life under “totalitarianism”, and some in solidarity with one of the last standing beacons of the communist project. But one might ask, what do they really see? This talk aims to move away from this line of inquiry, beyond attempts to differentiate between what is real and what is staged, and towards thinking about the kinds of sociality produced in the encounter between tourists, tours guides and the experience of North Korea. The first part of the presentation will provide a general overview of the three most visible tour companies operating trips to the country (Koryo Tours, Pyongyang Project, Young Pioneer Tours). The second segment considers North Korea as actively capitalizing on "the idea of communism" and their international reputation, while simultaneously creating a venue for the state to cultivate another image of the country on their own terms. The tours are guided and organized around a planned itinerary that reveals a curated presentation of the country, yet there is also room for play, reveling, joking, flirting, in short, a rich experience that unfolds in unexpected ways in the margins.

Speaker Bio:
Lisa Sangmi Min is a PhD student in Sociocultural anthropology at UC Berkeley.

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