1st Edition

North Korean Graphic Novels Seduction of the Innocent?

By Martin Petersen Copyright 2019
    322 Pages
    by Routledge

    322 Pages 80 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Graphic novels (kurimchaek) are a major art form in North Korea, produced by agents of the regime to set out its vision in a range of important areas. This book provides an analysis of North Korean graphic novels, discussing the ideals they promote and the tensions within those ideals, and examining the reception of graphic novels in North Korea and by North Korean refugees in South Korea. Particular themes considered include the ideal family and how the regime promotes this; patriotism, and its conflict with class identities; and the portrayal of the Korean War – "The Fatherland Liberation War", as it is known in North Korea – and the subsequent, continuing stand-off. Overall, the book demonstrates the importance of graphic novels in North Korea as a tool for bringing up children and for promoting North Korean ideals. In addition, however, the book also shows that although the regime sees the imaginative power of graphic novels as a necessity for effective communication, graphic novels are also viewed with caution in that they exist in everyday social life in ways that the regime may be aware of, and seeks to control, but cannot dominate completely.

    List of figures

    List of tables


    Introduction: Seduction of the innocent? Kurimchaek as entertainment, education, harmful media, political propaganda and beyond

    Part One: History, media and regime

    Chapter One: A short history of North Korea and kurimchaek

    Chapter Two: Post-1998 North Korean graphic novels

    Chapter Three: Father, Mother and Son: One family, one nation, one medium

    Part Two: Seduction of the reader

    Chapter Four: A society in crisis? From The Arduous March to a New Deal

    Chapter Five: The downfall of a model citizen? Family background as plot tension and policy discord

    Chapter Six: Sleepless in the DPRK: Graphic negotiations of ‘family’ in The True Identity of ‘Pear Blossom’

    Chapter Seven: Patriots behind enemy lines: Hyperreality and excess in graphic novels about war

    Part Three: Reading for the reader

    Chapter Eight: Reading for the North Korean reader I: Media framing of comics consumption in contemporary DPRK

    Chapter Nine: Reading for the North Korean reader II: Comics in children’s literature and refugee reminiscences

    Final panel: Seduction of the innocent?




    Martin Petersen is a Senior Researcher at the National Museum of Denmark