Title: The American-Korean Friendship and Information Center and North Korean Public Diplomacy, 1971-1976
Author: Brandon K. Gauthier
Affiliation: Fordham University
Issue: Law & Order – Volume 6 Issue 1
Publisher: Yonsei University Press
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While scholars of the “new diplomatic history” have extensively analyzed the role of culture and ideology in the history of American foreign relations, the historiography of diplomatic relations between the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) reflects a complete lack of understanding of the cultural, intellectual, and political narratives that have long shaped how Americans imagine North Korea in a domestic and global context. Specifically, historians have yet to consider how American attitudes about North Korea were increasingly informed by a transnational flow of ideas in the 1970s. With this understanding, this paper details the history of the American-Korean Friendship and Information Center (AKFIC) in New York City, a North Korean funded “anti-imperialist peace organization,” that sought to generate public support for the DPRK and force the withdrawal of American troops from the Korean peninsula. Utilizing interviews with former members of the group and its journal: Korea Focus, this paper makes two arguments: first, the DPRK used its close relationship with the AKFIC—alongside other “friendship societies” across the world—to harness the power of globalization for its own ends in the 1970s; second, members of the AKFIC sought to manipulate public anger over the Vietnam War and promote North Korean demands that US forces should withdraw from the Republic of Korea (ROK).
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