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Monday, January 18, 2016, 18:15 - 20:30

BB20160118Fahy web

Sandra Fahy

BB20160118cover web 

On January 6 of this year, almost out of the blue, North Korea said it had conducted a successful hydrogen bomb test, a defiant and unpredictable move that, if confirmed, would put Pyongyang a big step closer toward improving its still-limited nuclear arsenal. The statement came a complete shock to Japan and in Tokyo, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe condemned North Korea's test, calling it a "serious threat" to Japan and a "grave challenge" to nuclear nonproliferation efforts. What's going on in such unscrupulous North Korea? This book will certainly shed some light on the Hermit Kingdom's ultra-secret inner workings at a grass-roots level.


The book, published by Columbia University Press in 2015, is a deeply personal portrait of the ravages of famine and totalitarian politics in modern North Korea since the 1990s. Featuring interviews with more than thirty North Koreans who defected to Seoul and Tokyo, it explores the subjective experience of the nation's famine and its citizens' social and psychological strategies for coping with the regime.


These oral testimonies show how ordinary North Koreans, from farmers and soldiers to students and diplomats, framed the mounting struggles and deaths surrounding them as the famine progressed. Following the development of the disaster, North Koreans deployed complex discursive strategies to rationalize the horror and hardship in their lives, practices that maintained citizens' loyalty to the regime during the famine and continue to sustain its rule today. Casting North Koreans as a diverse people with a vast capacity for adaptation rather than as a monolithic entity passively enduring oppression, the book positions personal history as key to the interpretation of political violence. For the Book Break at FCCJ, author Sandra Fahy will speak about the role of information, communication and human rights in North Korea.

Sandra Fahy completed a doctorate in Anthropology at the School or Oriental and African Studies, University of London in 2009. Prior to completion of her Ph.D. she lived in South Korea for five years, and conducted field research in Seoul and Tokyo. She held a post-doctoral fellowship at École des hautes études en sciences socials in Paris at the Centre de Recherches sur la Corée, the Korean Studies Institute at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and also a Sejong Society Fellowship also at the KSI. She is currently Assistant Professor of Anthropology in the Faculty of Liberal Arts, at Sophia University, Tokyo, Japan. She is the author of several peer-review articles in "Anthropology Today," "Food, Culture and Society" (an interdisciplinary journal), "Asia Policy" and "Natural Hazards Observer."

The library committee is offering a cocktail party - "Meet the Author" - starting at 6:15 pm, followed by dinner at 6:45pm (Menu: Sautéed Chicken with Hot Vegetables). Drinks can be ordered on a cash basis from the bar in the room. Book Break charges are 2,100yen / 3,500yen (members/non-members) per person. The member price is applicable to members' guests.

To FCCJ members: Sign up now at the reception desk (03-3211-3161) or on the FCCJ website. To help us plan proper seating and food preparation, please reserve in advance, preferably by noon of the day of the event. Those without reservations will be turned away once available seats are filled. Reservations cancelled less than 24 hours in advance will be charged in full.

To non-members: Sign up now at the reception desk (03-3211-3161) or by mail (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ). Please reserve and pay in advance by Wednesday, January 13. Those without reservations will be turned away once available seats are filled. No refund is available unless the event is cancelled for the reasons on our part.

(The talk will be in English)


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