Cover of Millennial North Korea by Suk-Young Kim
Millennial North Korea
Forbidden Media and Living Creatively with Surveillance
Suk-Young Kim

October 2024
262 pages.
from $28.00

Hardcover ISBN: 9781503614918
Paperback ISBN: 9781503640870


Excerpts and More

North Korea may be known as the world's most secluded society, but it too has witnessed the rapid rise of new media technologies in the new millennium, including the introduction of a 3G cell phone network in 2008. In 2009, there were only 70,000 cell phones in North Korea. That number has grown tremendously in just over a decade, with over 7 million registered as of 2022. This expansion took place amid extreme economic hardship and the ensuing possibilities of destabilization. Against this social and political backdrop, Millennial North Korea traces how the rapidly expanding media networks in North Korea impact their millennial generation, especially their perspective on the outside world.

Suk-Young Kim argues that millennials in North Korea play a crucial role in exposing the increasing tension between the state and its people, between risktakers who dare to transgress strict social rules and compliant citizens accustomed to the state's centralized governance, and between thriving entrepreneurs and those left out of the growing market economy. Combining a close reading of North Korean state media with original interviews with defectors, Kim explores how the tensions between millennial North Korea and North Korean millennials leads to a more nuanced understanding of a fractured and fragmented society that has been frequently perceived as an unchanging, monolithic entity.

About the author

Suk-Young Kim is Professor of Theater and Performance Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is the author and editor of numerous books, including K-Pop Live: Fans, Idols, and Multimedia Performance (Stanford, 2018).

"Kim's remarkable new book is an essential contribution to the study of contemporary North Korean life. It is the only study I know of which has uncovered examples of creative intellectual work by North Koreans totally independent of their state. Kim has captured the birth of a North Korean-style nascent samizdat, the start of cultural life living secretly, variously, sneakily, within the state."

—Sandra Fahy, Carleton University

"Suk-Young Kim shatters the monolithic image of North Korea in this brilliant study of how millennials find space for self-expression even in the most repressive society on the planet. Covering everything from cell phones to K-pop, Millennial North Korea shows how young people are quietly and creatively subverting the system from within. The best book on real life in North Korea since Barbara Demick's Nothing to Envy."

—John Delury, Yonsei University