(Un)Covering North Korea
North Korea, arguably the most isolated country in the world, poses unique challenges for journalists. Access to the country is severely limited and even when a journalist is able to gain entry, the secretive and repressive nature of the state significantly limits what can be learned. Still, despite these difficult conditions, the realities of North Korean life are increasingly finding their way into various media, from newspaper reporting and on-line media to thinly fictionalized accounts.
This panel will take a multi-faceted look at the coverage of North Korea through the journalist (represented by 2012 Shorenstein Journalism Award winner Barbara Demick), the editor, the development/relief worker, and the novelist.
Barbara Demick, has been Beijing bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times since 2008. She has focused on human trafficking, corruption, and minorities, as well as North Korea. Demick is the author of two books -- Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea and Logavina Street: Life and Death in a Sarajevo Neighborhood. Her work has won awards from the Asia Society, the Overseas Press Club, the American Academy of Diplomacy, among others. Her North Korea book, which has been translated into more than 20 languages, recently won the International Book Award on Human Rights. She is a graduate of Yale and taught a seminar on coverage of repressive regimes at Princeton University. She lives in Beijing with her son Nicholas.
Susan Chira, was named assistant managing editor for news for the New York Times in September 2011. Previously, she had served as foreign editor (since January 2004), and as editorial director of book development (since September 2002). Before that, Chira was the editor of the "Week in Review" section at the Times (since October 1999), after having served as deputy foreign editor of the newspaper (since February 1997). Earlier, she served in a variety of reporting positions including national education correspondent, Tokyo correspondent (from October 1984 until February 1989), metropolitan reporter in the Albany and Stamford bureaus, and reporter for the "Business Day" section.
Katharina Zellweger, a Pantech Fellow, joined the Korean Studies Program at the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center after five years of living in Pyongyang where she has served as the North Korea country director for the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). Through her SDC and earlier work, she has witnessed modest economic and social changes not visible to most North Korea observers. Her research at the Center has drawn on her over 15 years of humanitarian work in North Korea and explore how aid intervention can stimulate positive sustainable change there
Adam Johnson is an associate professor of English, with emphasis in creative writing, at Stanford University. A Whiting Writers’ Award winner, his fiction has appeared in Esquire, Harper's, Playboy, Paris Review, Granta, Tin House, and Best American Short Stories. He is the author of Emporium, a short-story collection, and the novel Parasites Like Us, which won a California Book Award. His novel The Orphan Master's Son, a novel set in North Korea, has just been published by Random House. His books have been translated into sixteen languages. Johnson was a 2010 National Endowment for the Arts Fellow.