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Current Affairs in North Korea, 2010-2017: A Collection of Research Notes

Abstract

Starting with the public introduction of Kim Jong-un to the public in autumn of 2010 and ending with observations of consumerism in February 2017, this collection of 16 short research notes that were originally published at 38North discusses some of the most crucial issues, aside from the nuclear problem, that dominated the field of North Korean Studies in the past decade. Left in their original form, these short articles show the consistency of major North Korean policies as much as the development of our understanding of the new leader and his approach. Topics covered include the question of succession, economic statistics, new ideological trends such as pyŏngjin, technological developments including a review of the North Korean tablet computer Samjiyŏn, the Korean unification issue, special economic zones, foreign trade, parliamentary elections and the first ever Party congress since 1980.

Open access
East Asian Foodways: How Ingredients Speak of Regionality

Abstract

“Food can be studied from the viewpoint of many disciplines” (Mennell, Murcott, and Otterloo 1992: 35), however it is rarely used to identify regionality above nation states. Talking about East Asian food or an East Asian culinary sphere however does imply this regionality. By means of ingredients used, this paper is therefore testing four Asian nations for membership in this potential culinary region. While distinctive local taste preferences are not denied, this paper draws on diverse evidence to argue for common patterns pointing towards an East Asian culinary region. In doing so, it does not define the region exclusively but rather limits its scope for feasibility, inviting future research to expand on its findings.

Open access
Electronic Waste in China, Japan, and Vietnam: A Comparative Analysis of Waste Management Strategies

Abstract

This paper comparatively analyses the e-waste sector in China, Japan, and Vietnam by examining progress towards the international best practice model of Integrated Sustainable Waste Management (ISWM) within each country. Through three distinct, yet interdependent dimensions of ISWM (stakeholders, waste system elements, and sustainability aspects), similarities and differences between the three East Asian countries are identified. The analysis shows that the e-waste management approaches differ substantially. The Vietnamese e-waste management approach is least consistent with the ISWM framework, while Japan complies the most with the ideals of the model and Chinese progress towards ISWM is mostly located between the two countries. However, a substantial proportion of Japanese e-waste is exported to developing countries in an uncontrolled manner. The analysis further suggests that the state of development and national characteristics have a significant impact on how the three countries approach e-waste management. In particular, the central role of the informal e-waste sectors in China and Vietnam poses a challenge to the establishment of an effective integrated sustainable e-waste management system. In light of the transnational flow of e-waste in the region, only joint actions will lead to long-term solutions to the increasing threat of e-waste to the environment and human health.

Open access
How to Place August 15 in South Korean History? The New Right, the “1948 Foundation” Historical View, and the 2008 Kŏn’gukchŏl Dispute

Abstract

In Korea, August 15 marks both the liberation from colonialism (1945) and the promulgation of the South Korean state (1948). As a memorial day, 8.15 became to be narrated mostly as the day of liberation, while 1948 plays only a minor role. However, in the 2000s, the emergence of the New Right brought new debates on how to evaluate post-liberation history. A historical view proposing public memory on 8.15 centred on the “foundation” of South Korea emerged (kŏn’guk view). Combined with attempts to re-name 8.15 into a foundation day (kŏn’gukchŏl), an intense dispute between proponents and opponents of the re-narration was the result. This paper outlines the emergence of the New Right and traces the origins and politicisation of the kŏn’guk view and demonstrates how adopting the kŏn’guk narrative in state commemoration events led to a broad dispute in South Korean society. I trace this view’s origin to 2003 and argue that it got politicised in early 2008 during the early Lee Myung-bak administration. The politicisation resulted in a dispute in politics, civil society, and newspapers, whose progress and characteristics I analyse in detail. As a result of the 2008 Kŏn’gukchŏl Dispute, the issue of how to narrate the events of 1948 became actively discussed in academic scholarship since 2009.

Open access
Learning to Read Authentic Texts in Chinese as a Foreign Language: An Action Research-Based Investigation of a New Approach towards Raising Students’ Awareness of Literary Function Words

Abstract

Understanding the gist of Chinese authentic functional texts is a particular challenge for advanced beginners not only because of the morpho-syllabic writing system, but also due to the particular literary style. A didactic concept based on Stanovich’s (2000) and Gernsbacher’s (1997) reading models was developed for teaching Chinese as a foreign language at the university level. It is aimed at drawing the students’ attention to highly frequent literary function words in everyday texts, facilitating both the formation of relevant units of meaning and the application of higher-level strategic reading skills. The implementation of this new approach was investigated using the framework of action research. The data were analysed with qualitative methods and the results incorporated into the several teaching cycles. Two quasi-experiments were conducted to elicit individual problem solutions by the students. These data were collected in the form of video recordings of group work and student worksheets. Due to the predictability of specific literary structures, a certain automatisation in processing literary structures could indeed be achieved. Further construction of meaning, however, will have to be achieved through attentive-driven strategies, e.g. targeted dictionary use. It is important to train the students’ executive control mechanisms (e.g. comprehension monitoring), since Chinese can easily lead into a ‘dead end’ due to the absence of word segmentation and a high degree of polysemy.

Open access
Novel Findings on Gender Differences in Self- Disclosure: The Sharing of Personal Information in Japanese Students’ Close Friendships

Abstract

Contrary to common findings on self-disclosure and gender, male students at a Japanese university that were questioned for this study reported significantly higher disclosure to close friends than their female colleagues-overall as well as for various individual topics (N = 479). Two different measures of self-disclosure were used, both yielding similar results. The gender differences were especially pronounced in cross-gender friendships. In accordance with previous literature, subjective feeling of closeness and respondents’ trust in the stability of the friendship were found to be positively associated with self-disclosure. While both closeness and trust in relationship stability were greater in same-gender friendships, no gender differences were found in this regard. The conclusion discusses the possibility of these findings being connected to shifting images of masculinity and femininity among Japanese youth, as well as changing interaction patterns between genders.

Open access
Overseas Chinese Associations in Austria

Abstract

Compared to other ethnic groups, oversea Chinese constitute a smaller portion of the Austrian population. However, they still share many common values, while leading a diverse social and cultural life. This paper focuses on Chinese associations as a significant part of the Austrian Chinese community. First, we introduce the history of overseas Chinese associations in Austria, especially the first two founded in Austria in the early 1990s. Then, we discuss the general characteristics and main functions of overseas Chinese associations, followed by an overview of other Chinese associations in Austria. Lastly, we propose a classification system of overseas Chinese associations based on selected characters, including shared provenance, profession, ideology, natural characteristics, and hobbies.

Open access
Printing Cosmopolitanism, Challenging Orthodoxies: Cao Đài Journals in Twentieth Century Vietnam

Abstract

In the first part of the twentieth century, some members of the French- or Chinese-educated but indigenous religious, economic, and political elite in southern Vietnam (Cochin-China) intensively engaged in spirit-medium practices. Many of them set up or joined the new Cao Đài religion and its spirit-medium séances. Integrating in their pantheon religious figures from Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism, and even Catholicism, Cao Đài leaders deliberately challenged the orthodoxies at that time, tactically undermining the local religious elites, but also proposing a universal theological redemption and moral reform through the publication of their new set of spirit medium messages. Very quickly after the creation of Caodaism in 1926, various groups branched off, borrowing and adapting this reformed and orthodox posture within the Cao Đài community itself. While the Cao Đài canon may be well-known to scholars, Cao Đài community journals have yet to be examined in detail, although they often served as incubators for the Cao Đài quest for orthodoxy and a modern path to salvation. Based on archival studies and field research trips to the relevant areas, this paper aims to show how collective and individual actors of these Cao Đài groups have mobilised institutional, rhetorical, ideological, media-based, and other resources to assure and legitimise their authority. Simultaneously, we will see how the Cao Đài religion emerged from very unique kinds of “redemptive societies,” combining both Western and Eastern esotericism to articulate new Asian expressions of orthodoxy, universal values, and cosmopolitanism.

Open access
The Safest Country in the World? Notions of Risk and Security in the Japanese Private Security Industry

Abstract

This paper tackles the question of what kind of views on risk and security prevail in the Japanese private security industry and analyses its discursive structure. A theoretical framework based on the Copenhagen School’s concept of securitisation and its modification by Olaf Corry-the model of riskification-is used to explain processes of shaping notions of risk and security within the discourse. By analysing newspapers and professional magazines, it can be observed that by constantly pointing out the risks, the environment of the private security industry slowly changes, giving private companies further opportunities to act as a positively acknowledged part of society. It is not them, however, who actively shape these circumstances; rather, the broader range of activities are enforced and legitimised by the police that seems to be increasingly interested in joint crime prevention strategies.

Open access
Self-Employment Among North Korean Migrants

Abstract

In the absence of concrete ethnic differences, the division of a single Korean nation into two opposing states has led to the creation of specific types of nationhood and state building. This pseudo-ethnicity, which marks North Korean immigrants as “other” to South Koreans, results in adaptation problems and cultural difficulties. As the sociological literature considers self-employment of minorities and immigrants to be an important avenue for upward economic mobility, this paper focuses on North Korean new settlers who have established their own businesses in South Korea. By case study analysis, it was revealed that new settlers and official organisations have highly differing perceptions on the issue of North Korean self-employment. Public authorities try to discourage North Koreans from becoming self-employed, which is why a comprehensive economic support programme is lacking. However, it was discerned that a new generation of new settlers is growing, showing high motivation and entrepreneurial spirit. The result of this study showed that a tailored support programme for self-employed North Koreans, such as an adapted form of social enterprises, is needed.

Open access