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Organised by Calvin Chua and Dongwoo Yim

Emerging North Korea

Series: Symposium
Date: Friday 17 February 2017
Time: 14:00
Venue: Lecture Hall
Running time: 0 mins

As a parallel effort to the AA Visiting School programme in Pyongyang, the symposium will touch on the most recent transformation of North Korea from its built environment to its society. Despite its notoriety of being one of the most veiled countries in modern history, North Korea has recently started to engage with the rest of the world, and now we can easily witness various socio-economic changes within the nation, as seen in the 1990s in other post-socialist countries. In this symposium, Andray Abrahamian, Eunlee Joung, Chang-ju Lee, Yehre Suh and Gianluca Spezza, will each present new trends in North Korea due to these ongoing changes, from large scale infrastructural developments to small scale social changes. This will be followed by a round table discussion moderated by Calvin Chua and Dongwoo Yim. 


Andray Abrahamian is Associate Director of Research at Choson Exchange, a non-profit that provides training for DPR Koreans in Economics, Entrepreneurship and Urban Planning. He was Executive Director of Choson Exchange from 2012 to 2016. He currents also lectures at the University of Yangon, teaching classes on East Asian Development Models and East Asian International Relations. He is also Chief Analyst at Exera, a risk management company focused exclusively on Myanmar. He is an Honorary Fellow at Macquarie University, Sydney and a member of the National Committee on North Korea.


Gianluca Spezza is a PhD Candidate at the International Institute of Korean Studies, University of Central Lancashire (UK). His research interest include: North Korean society, particularly the education sector, and the relationship between North Korea and International Organizations, specifically UNICEF, UNDP and UNESCO. Other research interests are: comparative analysis of North Korea vis-a-vis other political entities generally classified as totalitarian; nationalism and national identity; USA politics, the compliance of States with international norms, and the influence of beliefs on domestic and international politics. His recent publications include a chapter in the North Korea Atlas (Damdi, 2014), and an article in the 2014 winter issue of the Viennese Contribution to Korean Studies (University of Vienna). He has also contributed content for the North Korea Travel App, and is the co-author of ‘Icons of Rhetoric’, a media-literary project on North Korea together with UK photographer Chris Barrett. Gianluca holds a Master in Contemporary History from the University of Torino, Italy, and a MSSc. in Asian Studies (IR) from the University of Turku, Finland. Gianluca has lived, studied and worked in nine countries over three continents. Prior to his academic & research career, he worked in Seoul and Bangkok as an area manager and education consultant for five years. A native Italian speaker, he speaks and reads English, Korean and Spanish.


Chang-ju Lee, from Republic of Korea, is a Ph.D candidate at Fudan University in Shanghai. He studies on “East Asia Connectivity” with diplomacy, logistics, infrastructure in Shanghai. As researcher, reporter and writer, He has a lot of field work experience on the China’s border places with DPRK, Russia, Mongolia. When he worked at Korea Maritime Institute in 2013, he has visited and interviewed with public officials and experts about TCR, TMGR, TMR, TSR.  


Eunlee Joung is research professor of the Institute for Social Sciences, Gyeongsang National University (GUU). Previously she served as Visiting Scholar of International Centre for Study of the Cold War History, East China Normal University (ECNU). She is currently serving as a member of the policy advisory committee at Ministry of unification, and as Visiting Scholar of Korean Peninsula Research Center, Beijing University (PKU). She obtained her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Tohoku in Japan. Her thesis include Analysis on Development of North Korean Real Estate Market: Focusing on Illegal Trade of Right to Used House (The Korea journal of unification affairs, 2015), and A Study on the China’s trade with North Korea: Centered on the dynamics according to changing trend of the trade practice and manner, and transactors (The Korea journal of unification affairs, 2014), A Survey on the Actual Status of Housing Market In North Korea (The journal of Northeast Asia Economic study, 2013) 


Yehre Suh is currently the Assistant Professor of Urban Design at Seoul National University, Graduate School of Environmental Studies, Department of Landscape Architecture and the Director of the Urban Terrains Lab. She has previously taught at Cornell University, Barnard College/Columbia University, City College of New York, and Pratt Institute. Yehre Suh is a Registered Architect in New York and New Jersey, USA and is a LEED AP BD+C accredited professional. She is the Partner of Office of Urban Terrains which progresses diverse scales of work in architecture, landscape and urban design. Most recent works include the masterplan, concept design proposal for Maehyangli Peace Park, as well as the International Competition proposal for the Nodeul Island in Seoul which received the Special Jury Prize. Office of Urban Terrains was also part of the preselected team for the International Competition for the Seoul Skywalk. Yehre Suh was awarded the Graham Foundation Grant in 2008, Cornell Arts Council Grant in 2009, 2010, Rotch Foundation Grant in 2012, and the ARKO Grant for Criticism in the Arts, and SNU Promising Pioneer Research Grant in 2015. Her work was part of the 14th Venice Biennale Korean Pavilion exhibition in 2014 which won the best pavilion Golden Lion award. She was also the Curator of Asian Urbanism at the Asia Culture Center in Gwangju, Korea in 2016. Her book is to be published in 2017.


Dongwoo Yim is the principal of Boston/Seoul based firm PRAUD co-founded with Rafael Luna. As the author of “(UN)Precedented Pyongyang,” “North Korean Atlas,” “Pyongyang, and Pyongyang After,” he has pursued various urban researches that mostly focus on socialist urbanism and housing model. He is the winner of the Architectural League Prize of New York and the participant artist to the award winning Korean Pavilion in 2014 Venice Architectural Biennale. He has been teaching at Rhode Island School of Design since 2011, was visiting professor at Washington University in St. Louis, and has taught at China Academy of Art.


Calvin Chua is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) and directs Spatial Anatomy, a design office based in Singapore. Together with Choson exchange, Calvin is also currently leading the AA Visiting School programme in Pyongyang, which has been featured in various news media, including CNN and DW News. Professionally, Calvin has worked for various architectural and planning offices, including Balmond Studio and Fundacion Metropoli. An alumnus of the Architectural Association, Calvin is a registered architect in the United Kingdom.



All lectures are open to members of the public, staff and students unless otherwise stated.


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