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Howard, Keith (2022) 'Dance and Ideology in North Korea: Ch’oe Sŭnghŭi and Her Response to Criticism.' European Journal of Korean Studies, 21 (2). pp. 1-30.

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Ch’oe Sŭnghŭi (J. Sai Shōki) was the most celebrated Korean dancer of the twentieth century. In the 1930s, she developed a set of dances for the new stages of urban Korea, Japan, and beyond that showcased elements taken from Korean tradition, particularly from “folk” dances (minsok muyong). In 1946, after Korea’s division at the end of the Pacific War, she moved to Pyongyang, where her dances became the foundations of North Korea’s “national” dances (minjok muyong). She rose to prominence, until in 1957, together with her husband An Mak, she was attacked for being bourgeois. She was stripped of her seat on the Supreme People’s Assembly. Ch’oe’s experience shines light on how national dances were established as ideological control was rolled out in North Korea. But there is a second side to her story: in 1957 and 1958, in her response to criticism, she adopted a blinkered approach. She resisted control and the mechanism—later known as “literary art theory” (munye iron)—of its delivery, and this sealed her fate. Although tempo- rarily reprieved, her name disappeared completely from North Korean programs and from newspaper and journal accounts about dance in the early 1960s, and within a few years she was dead.

Item Type: Journal Article
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of Arts > Department of Music
ISSN: 26314134
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
SWORD Depositor: JISC Publications Router
Date Deposited: 11 Jul 2022 11:49

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