Live Webcast/Book Discussion: Kim Il Sung in the Khrushchev Era

February 15, 2006 // 3:00pm4:30pm
Event Co-sponsors: 
Asia Program

To watch the live webcast, follow the links in the See Also box to the right of this screen.

6th Floor Boardroom
Woodrow Wilson Center
1300 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20004

Balasz Szalontai, Department of Political Science, National University of Mongolia
James Hershberg, George Washington University
Hyung-ki Kim, Kyungnam University
Kathryn Weathersby, Cold War International History Project

Co-sponsored by the Wilson Center Press, the Center's Asia Program, and the Kennan Institute of Advanced Russian Studies

Drawing on extensive research in the rich records on North Korea held in Hungarian archives and broad knowledge of the communist world, this path-breaking book examines why and how North Korea became more despotic even as other communist countries underwent de-Stalinization during the Khrushchev era. Szalontai's analysis focuses on Kim Il Sung: his nationalism; his efforts to balance the need for foreign aid with his hope for an independent foreign policy; and what seems to be his good sense of timing in doing in internal rivals without attracting Soviet retaliation. Through a series of comparisons not only with the USSR but also with Albania, Romania, Yugoslavia, China, and Vietnam, the author presents an original and important interpretation of the forces responsible for shaping North Korea's unique form of communism.

Balázs Szalontai received his PhD in history from Central European University, Budapest, with a dissertation titled "The Failure of De-Stalinization in North Korea, 1953-1964: The DPRK in a Comparative Perspective." His M.A. thesis from CEU was titled "De-Stalinization in Eastern Europe, 1953-1958: A Comparative Political, Social and Economic Analysis." He was a visiting researcher at the Asiatic Research Center, Korea University, in the fall of 2004 and currently teaches in the Department of Political Science of the National University of Mongolia. His research interests include the modern history of Korea, Vietnam, Mongolia, China, and Albania.

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Experts & Staff

  • Christian F. Ostermann // Director, History and Public Policy Program; Global Europe; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project
  • Laura Deal // Catalog Specialist
  • Pieter Biersteker // Editorial Assistant
  • Charles Kraus // Program Associate
  • Evan Pikulski // Program Assistant
  • James Person // Deputy Director, History and Public Policy Program; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project