Lankov Lecture: The cracks in the alliance: the Soviet Union and North Korea in 1955-1960

It is often presumed that North Korea since its inception was a Soviet satellite or ally. This is correct, but only to an extent, since Kim Il Song and his supporters among the North Korean leaders were deeply nationalistic and saw their reliance on the USSR as a burden. After 1955 it became possible for them to get rid of what they saw as a troublesome and even humiliating dependency. The Soviet attempts to support the anti-Kim opposition ended in a political disaster, and the late 1950s became the time when the relations between the USSR and North Korea deteriorated fast. The period was marked by dramatic events – a defection of the North Korean ambassador to Moscow, abductions of dissenting North Korean students from the USSR and other countries (resulting in the expulsion of the then North Korean ambassador), ban on marriages with the Soviet citizens etc.

Andrei Lankov was born 26 July 1963 in Leningrad (now Petersburg). He completed his undergraduate and graduate studies at Leningrad State University (PhD in 1989). In 1996-2004 he taught Korean history at the Australian National University, and since 2004 he teaches at Kookmin University in 2004, Seoul (currently a professor at the College of Social Studies), and is also director of the Korearisk.com group. His major research interest is North Korean history and society. His major English language publications on North Korea include: From Stalin to Kim Il Sung: The Formation of North Korea, 1945-1960 (Rutgers University Press, 2003); Crisis in North Korea: The Failure of De-Stalinization, 1956 (University of Hawaii Press, 2004), North of the DMZ: Essays on Daily Life in North Korea (McFarland and Company, 2007), The Real North Korea (Oxford University Press, 2013). He has contributed to the 'Wall Street Journal', 'New York Times', 'Financial Times', 'Newsweek', and published a number of academic articles, including two articles in 'Foreign Affairs'.

 

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