‘Myth and Reality in US-North Korean Relations’ is topic at Rice Feb. 13

MEDIA ADVISORY

Jeff Falk
jfalk@rice.edu
713-348-6775

‘Myth and Reality in US-North Korean Relations’ is topic at Rice Feb. 13

HOUSTON – (Feb. 7, 2019) – As President Trump prepares for his second summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, a historian who’s written extensively about relations between the two countries warns that American leaders have never sought to know their North Korean enemy.

Soldiers at the Demilitarized Zone in Panmunjom, a so-called truce village that straddles the border between North and South Korea. Credit: 123RF.com/Rice University

That’s the premise of a Feb. 13 lecture at Rice University by Bruce Cumings, a professor of history at the University of Chicago who specializes in modern Korean history and East Asian-American relations.

This Chao Center for Asian Studies Liu Distinguished Visitor Series event is free and open to the public. Through the support of Rice alumnus Frank Liu and his wife, Cindy, the series is designed to enliven the research, education and community outreach activities of the Chao Center by bringing some of the world’s most distinguished scholars and artists to campus.

Who: Bruce Cumings, the Gustavus F. and Ann M. Swift Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago and author of “The Korean War: A History” (2011).

What: Chao Center’s Liu Distinguished Visitor Series: “Myth and Reality in US-North Korean Relations.”

When: 4-5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13. A reception will follow the lecture.

Where: Rice University, Fondren Library, Kyle Morrow Room (third floor), 6100 Main St.

Cumings’ talk will examine myths, flawed assumptions and erroneous conceptions about what makes North Korea tick, according to event organizers. American leaders assumed from the beginning that North Korea was a Russian implant, knowing nothing about its indigenous origins and its close relationship with China, Cumings said. During the Cold War, American diplomats considered it a “puppet state.” When the USSR collapsed, a bipartisan consensus emerged that North Korea would also collapse soon; this became a matter of settled policy during the administration of President Bill Clinton, Cumings said. Clinton also set the precedent that North Korea was a problem for the non-proliferation regime, failing to understand that the North’s nuclear program is a product of the never-ended Korean War, American nuclear threats and the daily confrontation with American power, he said. American leaders have never put themselves in North Korea’s shoes and tried to look at the world as Pyongyang sees it, Cumings said.

Members of the news media who want to attend should RSVP to Jeff Falk, associate director of national media relations at Rice, at jfalk@rice.edu or 713-348-6775.

For a map of Rice University’s campus with parking information, go to www.rice.edu/maps. Media are advised to park in the Founder’s Court Visitor Lot near Lovett Hall or the Central Campus Garage below McNair Hall.

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Related materials:

Chao Center for Asian Studies: https://chaocenter.rice.edu.

About Jeff Falk

Jeff Falk is associate director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.