Star Wars and Star Trek are among the highest-grossing movie franchises worldwide – yet they usually do not feature among the most successful films released in South Korea. This illustrates a larger trend: Science Fiction, may it be in the form of movies or books, is not particularly popular in South Korea. In contrast to that, North Korea has a rich tradition of Science Fiction.
To hear more about how the perception and role of Science Fiction differ in the two Korean states, we had the pleasure of interviewing Professor Dong-Won Kim. He told us about the conceptions of technology, society and the future that underpin Science Fiction in South and North Korea, and about how the works of Science Fiction produced in the two countries differ from each other.
Dong-Won Kim is Lecturer in Science, Technology and Society (STSC) at the University of Pennsylvania. He obtained his Bachelor degree from Seoul National University, and his Master and PhD from Harvard University’s Department of the History of Science. Previously, he was Dean of the College of Cultural Science at KAIST in South Korea, visiting professor at Harvard University and the National University of Singapore as well as John Hopkins University.
There are very few science fiction writers in Korea. Only from the mid-1990s were there some South Korean writers who regularly produced science fiction short stories and medium-length science fiction novels. And very few science fiction movies were made.
The interview was recorded on March 7th, 2017 in Columbus, Ohio.