On possible transformation of everyday life in North Korea via referencing other East Asian socialist nations in transition
ABSTRACT: Without direct fieldwork access one can nevertheless imagine what possible changes can happen in the everyday life of North Koreans, by references with conditions elsewhere in East Asia which resonates with current conditions in North Korea. First, the division between North and South Korea can be referenced with the other instances of nations divided by a communist and a capitalist regime; namely, the present China and Taiwan and the previous North and South Vietnam. In contrast to these references to possible routes to reunification, it also can be referenced to instances of peaceful separations, such as the case of Malaysia and Singapore. Second, now that a nascent private market economy has been introduced, the experiences of Vietnam and China in marketizing their respective centrally planned economy can serve as references to imagine the possible economic transformation of North Korea. Third, the penetration of imported media/popular cultures into North Korean media consumption may stimulate new aspirations of local population for a different material future, as it has done in other parts of East Asia. Drawing on the experiences of other East Asian nations as reference points, potential and possible changes in the everyday life in North Korea can be imagined.
KEYWORDS: Inter-Asia referencing; North and South Koreas; separate sovereign states; K-pop; economic marketisation.
Chua Beng Huat has held visiting professorships at universities in Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Germany, Australia and the US. During his recent Distinguished Visiting Scholar Fellowship at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, he delivered the Inaugural Lecture of the Carolina Asia Center. He has published widely in urban planning and public housing, comparative politics in Southeast Asia and the emerging consumerism across Asia. His publications include: Communitarian Ideology and Democracy in Singapore (London and New York: Routledge, 1995) and Political Legitimacy and Housing: Stakeholding in Singapore (London and New York: Routledge, 1997). He has also edited “Consumption in Asia: Lifestyles and Identities” (London and New York: Routledge, 2000). His most recent book is Life is Not Complete without Shopping (Singapore: Singapore University Press, 2003).