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North Korean Defectors


TaewooBurns
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Hi there all.  I am currently doing independent research studying North Korean defectors in Seoul for my writing sample.  Does anyone know of any programs that have people studying North Korean defectors?  I know Choo at Toronto, but are there others?  I am specifically interested in North American universities only.

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You're probably going to have limited luck finding someone interested in that specific topic.  If you're looking for a place to apply for graduate school, you'd be better off trying to do two separate things.  First, try to find people studying the political sociology of Korea.  Even if that broader topic, I'd imagine you'll have a pretty small pool of people working on the subject.  As someone else studying a non-Western topic, I'd imagine that you might still have a small people of people even if you opened yourself up to all people studying political sociology of East Asia (this is the first thing you should).

Second, and more importantly, ask yourself, "If this is a case study, what is it a case of?"  And then find people who work on that general case.  Why would anyone not interested in North Korea defectors read your work?  You need to be able to answer that question (and there may be more than one answer).  Perhaps you should look for people who work on civil society in authoritarian states.  Or people who work on the "exit" part of "exit, voice, and loyalty".    To give you an idea, I saw an ASA presentation of a girl who was doing her dissertation on networks of Korean anti-colonial political activists/freedom fighters.  Her adviser doesn't do anything on Korea, or even Asia, but is an expert on network methodology.  If you're looking for someone to work with, those are the kind of connections that you need to make between the work you want to do and the work that people at top universities are already doing.

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Jacib, thanks a lot for that advice!  I had never really considered political sociology.  What I have been doing is trying to find a methodological match.  When I snoop around websites I'm looking for research interests like immigration, Asia, intersectionality, citizenship, identity and/or social stratification (in that order).  I would say I've found less than 5 people who have an research interest in Korea and a total of 3 who have done anything with defectors.  As I look in the future I'll take a closer look at the political side of sociology.

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The blending of cultural and political borders and boundaries may be another area to consider.

As someone studying an under researched area I can tell you that while it may be hard to find a location match but that doesn't mean people won't be excited about your work.

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The steady references to Hirschmann's work I hear among my peers gives me great hope for my own future.  

 

Also, to OP: if you're getting solid data from actual NK defectors, that's amazing.  As I understand it these people are pretty scared to talk to anyone about their experiences.  Congrats.  I would keep going with the political soc recommendations, and start thinking about how the particulars of these people's experiences and their reports on cultural differences present variation that can illuminate macro-comparative stuff on communism and totalitarianism, something there is still a lot of interest in because of the people it's killing in places like NK, Cuba, and Venezuela, and because there's still no great consensus on how these states eventually give to occidental-trajectory development.

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The steady references to Hirschmann's work I hear among my peers gives me great hope for my own future. 

Don't get too excited, man.  It was me who referenced it, and I may have gotten it from you.  It's definitely one of those ideas I learned about only after starting grad school.  

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