Charles K. Armstrong - Professor of History, Columbia University
In May – June 1984, North Korea’s leader Kim Il Sung took a six-week tour of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, his most extensive and high-profile visit to the region since 1956. As it turned out, Kim had reaffirmed North Korea’s solidarity with the socialist community of nations just as this community was about to collapse, which contributed significantly to North Korea’s economic crisis in the 1990s. Archives of the former communist countries in Eastern Europe opened since the end of the Cold War reveal the complex and often ambivalent relationship between North Korea and its socialist allies, and help explain the continued viability of the North Korean regime more than twenty years after the end of communist rule in Eastern Europe.
Charles K. Armstrong is The Korea Foundation Professor of Korean Studies in the Social Sciences in the Department of History and former Director of the Center for Korean Research at Columbia University. A historian of contemporary North and South Korea, Professor Armstrong is the author, editor or co-editor of six books, including most recently Tyranny of the Weak: North Korea and the World, 1950 – 1992 (Cornell University Press, 2013) and The Koreas (Routledge: second edition, 2014). Professor Armstrong holds a B.A. in Chinese Studies from Yale University, an M.A. in International Relations from the London School of Economics, and a Ph.D. in History from the University of Chicago. He has taught at Princeton, the University of Washington, and Seoul National University, and joined the Columbia faculty in 1996.