What We Know: Writing on North Korea Today


North Korea is reckoned as one of the most secretive and repressive countries on earth. Its society still remains shrouded in mystery even though fascination surrounding it remains unabated. Yet, thanks to defector testimony, satellite imagery and data from the DPRK itself, more is known today about this country than ever before. A range of intrepid, resourceful writers whom we gather together for this event have ventured into writing about North Korea to offer rich, nuanced portrayals of a complex and rapidly changing society. The recent, stunning revelations of inaccuracies in Shin Dong-hyuk’s story, a North Korean prison camp survivor who provided the basis for a bestselling book, vividly attests to the challenges of writing about North Korea. 

Join the Asia Society for a conversation with leading writers and activist working on North Korea as they discuss the rewards, formidable challenges and lessons learned from writing about the “Hermit Kingdom.”  There will be a book signing event for both Blaine Harden's The Great Leader and the Fighter Pilot and Adam Johnson's The Orphan Master's Son after the panel discussion.


Mike Cowin, Pantech Fellow, Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, Stanford University; former Deputy head of mission at the British Embassy  in Pyongyang, North Korea

Blaine Harden, former journalist, The Washington Post; author, Escape from Camp 14, The Great Leader and the Fighter Pilot

Adam Johnson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Orphan Master’s Son; Professor of English, Stanford University

Jonathan Karp (moderator), Executive Director, Asia Society Southern California

Joseph Kim, North Korean defector and speaker; author, Under the Same Sky: From Starvation in North Korea to Salvation in America (forthcoming)


Program Agenda:

5:30 - 6:00 pm: Registration
6:00 - 7:30 pm: Panel Discussion and Q&A
7:30 - 8:00 pm: Reception and Networking

Promotional Co-Sponsors: East-West Center, Northern California Chapter; Institute of East Asian Studies, U.C. Berkeley; Center for Korea Studies, U.C. Berkeley; Yale Club of San Francisco

Event Details

Tue 24 Mar 2015
6 - 7:30 p.m.
ASNC, Bechtel Conference Center, 500 Washington Street, San Francisco
Buy Tickets
$10 Asia Society Northern California/Co-Sponsor Members and Students / $20 Non-members
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