Featured post

Introducing the project

As part of our ongoing efforts to shed light on lesser-known aspects of Cold War history, we are pleased to announce the initiation of a research project that aims to investigate the multifaceted ties between Czechoslovakia (CSSR) and the Korean Peninsula during the Cold War era. The relationship between these two regions, which includes diplomatic relations, economic cooperation, technology transfer, and cultural exchanges, has remained largely unexplored in international academia.

The interaction between Czechoslovakia and Korea can be traced back to the period following World War II. During this time, ethnic Koreans started teaching the Korean language at the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences, and a Korean studies department was established at Charles University in Prague by 1950. Czechoslovakia played a crucial role in the reconstruction of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) during and after the Korean War, actively participating in the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission (NNSC) and the Czechoslovak military mission to Korea (1952-1956). Furthermore, the CSSR operated the Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) in Cheongjin, further cementing their connection.

Our project seeks to create a small research team focusing on three main subjects: political history and diplomatic exchange, CSSR’s aid to the DPRK (NNSC, MASH), and cultural exchange (literature and translations). The research team will work on collecting primary sources, archiving them, and creating an internal database for future reference.

In September 2023, we plan to organize a workshop to provide a platform for scholars to share and evaluate ongoing research and discuss potential long-term projects connecting the team globally. The workshop will also serve as an opportunity to invite guests who focus on relations between other European socialist countries and the Korean Peninsula.

The culmination of this collaborative research will result in the publication of three case studies. These studies will explore Czechoslovakia’s role as a transnational hub for Latin Americans travelling to North Korea, historical documents related to the NNSC and the MASH in Cheongjin, and the influence of translated literature and publications with Korean themes by domestic or non-Korean authors.

This research project presents an opportunity to delve deeper into the historical connections between Czechoslovakia and the Korean Peninsula during the Cold War. Stay tuned to our academic blog for updates on the progress of this research project.

(Online lecture series) “Perspectives on the Korean Peninsula during the Cold War”

We are delighted to share the exciting news that our research project has reached a significant milestone, securing support from the Academy of Korean Studies for the academic year 2024/2025. Led by Dr Zuzana Hritzová from the Slovak Academy of Sciences Oriental Institute, in collaboration with Charles University in Prague, Palacky University in Olomouc, Comenius University in Bratislava, University of Vienna, Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, Jagiellonian University in Krakow, and the University of Bucharest, our project is poised to enter its next phase of development.
We are thrilled to unveil our latest endeavour: an online educational course designed specifically for intermediate and advanced students of Korean Studies. Titled “Perspectives on the Korean Peninsula during the Cold War,” this course represents a concerted effort to delve into the intricate history of the Cold War, with a particular emphasis on the Korean peninsula’s unique vantage point.

In today’s increasingly interconnected world, where parallels between contemporary geopolitics and the Cold War era are often drawn, it is imperative to explore the dynamics of this pivotal period from a transnational perspective. Therefore, our course will examine the events and developments on the Korean peninsula and the broader transnational connections between Korea and European nations during the Cold War.
At the heart of this online course lies a central objective: to bridge the existing knowledge gap by offering a comprehensive examination of the implications of the Cold War for the Korean peninsula. We aim to provide students with a nuanced understanding of this complex historical period through engaging lectures, interactive discussions, and curated readings.

Announcement: Introducing Our New Online Course on Korean Peninsula Perspectives during the Cold War.

We are thrilled to announce that our research project has received support for the upcoming academic year 2024/2025 by the Academy of Korean Studies. In partnership with European universities, we are excited to unveil our latest initiative—an online educational course tailored for intermediate and advanced students of Korean Studies. The course is titled: “Perspectives on the Korean Peninsula during the Cold War.”

Stay tuned as we prepare to release the full program details shortly.

Reflecting on the Workshop 

Published on September 15, 2023

On September 14, Charles University hosted the “Cold War Dynamics of Europe-Korea Relations through European Archives” workshop. This event was made possible thanks to the generous support of the Academy of Korean Studies.

The heart of this workshop revolved around the intricate dynamics of the Cold War, with a specific lens on Europe-Korea relations. Its mission was straightforward: to uncover the historical treasures held within European archives, giving us fresh insights into the past.

We sincerely thank all the presenters who generously shared their expertise. Your contributions were pivotal in making this workshop a success. And to our esteemed guests, whether you joined us in Prague or online, we extend our heartfelt thanks for being part of this enriching experience.

The CSSR-Korea team.

Upcoming workshop: “The Cold War Dynamics of Europe-Korea Relations through European Archives.”

We are delighted to invite you to the upcoming workshop “The Cold War Dynamics of Europe-Korea Relations through European Archives.” This event will be held on September 14 2023, as part of the research project on Czechoslovakia and the Korean peninsula during the Cold War, generously funded by the AKS. The workshop will be in a hybrid format, so you are welcome to join us in person at Charles University in Prague or opt for online attendance.

Event Details:

Workshop Title: The Cold War Dynamics of Europe-Korea Relations through European Archives

Venue: Charles University, Prague Učebna P201, FF UK nám. Jana Palacha 2 Praha 1, Czech Republic.

Online Attendance: Access link

Date and Time: September 14, 2023, Starting at 9:30 AM (CEST).

Thank you for your attention, and we hope to see you at the workshop!


  • 9:30 Lukáš Kubík (Charles University), Introduction of the project: CSSR and Korean peninsula during the Cold War.
  • 9:40 Camilo Aguirre Torrini (University of Sussex), Beyond Methodological Nationalism: Insights from North Korea-Latin America Relations.
  • 10:05 Balasz Szalontai (Korea University), A New Look at North Korea’s Relations with the Middle East and North Africa: The Advantages and Limitations of East European Archival and Media Sources.

– 10:30 Coffee break 15 min

  • 10:45 Max Altenhofen (Tübingen University), Women Peace Activist’s Struggle Against West German Rearment in the Wake of the Korean War.
  • 11:10 Adelina Pinzaru (University of Michigan), Socialist Encounters Beyond the Iron Curtain – A Perspective on Romania-North Korea Relations During the 1970s.
  • 11:35 Debate

– 12:00 Lunch Break (1h 30m)

  • 13:30 Karol Starowicz (Adam Mickiewicz University), “What do we know about North Korea?” The perspective of research on North Korea in light of the activities of the members of the Polish Mission to the NNSC on the Korean Peninsula from 1953 to 1990.
  • 13:55 Zuzana Hritzová (Slovak Academy of Sciences), Czechoslovakia and North Korea Relations within the NNSC in Korea and the Current Situation of  Archival Funds in Czech and Slovak republic.
  • 14:20 Natalia Matveeva (SOAS), North Korean ‘economic diplomacy’ vis a vis the CSSR in the 1960s.

– 14:45 Coffee break 15 min 

  • 15:00 Mariia Guleva (Charles University), Korean War reflections in the socialist camp: visual propaganda in the PRC, CSSR, and the USSR. 
  • 15:25 Avram Agov (University of British Columbia), New Family: North Korean Orphans in Bulgaria.
  • 15:50 Debate (30 min)

(Book) Ch’oe Sŭnghŭi and An Sŏnghŭi in Czechoslovakia (CZE+ENG)

The official photo of An Sŏnghŭi. Archive of Vladimír Pucek

In recent years, the captivating performances of Ch’oe Sŭnghŭi, the most famous Korean dancer of the Japanese colonial era, have regained attention. While her story has been told through films, monographs, and travel guides, the information is limited and often repetitive. This book by Miriam Löwensteinova, Matěj Valošek and Late Vladimír Pucek (2019, Nová Vlna) delves into the lesser-known aspects of Ch’oe’s life and her postwar tours, which included a stop in Czechoslovakia in 1956 and the life of her daughter, An Sŏnghŭi.

You can read the book here: https://www.academia.edu/38832219/ČchőSŭnghŭi_a_An_Sŏnghŭi_vČeskoslovensku_Choe_Sŭnghŭi_and_An_Sŏnghŭi_in_Czechoslovakia_Př%C3%ADlohy_Appendices

(Article by Camilo Aguire Torrini) Can Venezuela and the DPRK Wipe the Slate Clean and Make a Fresh Start?

Pak Myong Guk and Rubén Darío Molina inaugurate the Venezuelan Embassy in Pyongyang. August 21, 2019. Source: VTV Canal 8.

In his article for 38 North, Camilo discusses relations between Venezuela and DPRK. You can read the article here: https://www.academia.edu/60167413/Can_Venezuela_and_the_DPRK_Wipe_the_Slate_Clean_and_Make_a_Fresh_Start 

(Article by Zuzana Hritzová) Czechoslovakia-North Korea Relations within the NNSC from the Late 1960s Until 1979

This undated photo shows the Czechoslovak flag waving at the Czechoslovak camp in Manpo in the North, which was one of the five checkpoints to which the NNSC members traveled to monitor the post-war procedure. Photographer Jaromir Svamberk was an interpreter. Source: KoreaTimes

In her recent article (2020, Studia Orientalia Slovaca), Zuzana Hritzová delves into the fascinating yet lesser-known aspects of the relationship between Czechoslovakia and North Korea within the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission (NNSC) from the late 1960s to 1979. You can read her article here: https://www.academia.edu/95781406/Czechoslovakia_North_Korea_Relations_within_the_NNSC_from_the_Late_1960s_Until_1979

Introducing the team: Karolína Šamánková

Mgr. Karolína Šamánková is an accomplished researcher and academician with a deep interest in Korean studies, focusing on the modern history of Korea and its interpretations, including the diverse facets of Korean society, politics, and culture. Karolína is pursuing her PhD in the History and Culture of Asian and African Countries program at Charles University, Faculty of Arts, Czech Republic. She previously completed her master’s degree in Korean Studies. As a full-time assistant professor at the Korean studies department in the Institute of East Asian Studies at Charles University, Faculty of Arts, Karolína is making significant contributions to Korean studies research.

In the CSSR-Korea project, Karolína focuses on the 1988 Olympic games in Seoul and its reception in Czechoslovakia. This research is particularly significant, providing unique insights into the cultural exchanges and diplomatic relations between Korea and Czechoslovakia during that period.

Institutional website: https://uas.ff.cuni.cz/ustav/profily-akademiku/koreanistika/karolina-samankova/

Introducing the team: Zuzana Hritzová

Meet Dr Zuzana Hritzová, a researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Slovak Academy of Sciences. Her expertise lies in the Czechoslovakia-North Korea relationship within the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission (NNSC) and Korean Peninsula in international relations. Dr Hritzová earned her Master’s in International Studies and Korean Studies from Seoul National University, South Korea. She later pursued a PhD in Korean Studies at the Department of East Asian Studies at Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia. Her PhD thesis, titled “Czechoslovakia-North Korea Relations in the Context of the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission (from 1953 until 1979),” was supervised by Prof. Martin Slobodník and later by Prof. Vincent Múcska. Dr Hritzová has extensive experience as a lecturer and assistant professor at the Department of East Asian Studies at Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia. She has a keen interest in the Czechoslovakia-North Korea relationship and Korea in IR.

In the Czechoslovakia-Korea project, she focuses on the CSSR’s cooperation with the DPRK within the NNSC.

Academia: https://sav-sk.academia.edu/ZuzanaHritzováVavrincová

Introducing the team: Camilo Aguirre Torrini

Photo: Lukáš Kubík

Camilo Aguirre Torrini is a doctoral researcher at the University of Sussex (UK). He holds an MA in Korean Studies from Seoul National University and a BA in History from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso (Chile).

Camilo is also a Research Associate at the Comparative Korean Studies Center in Central University of Chile and Korean History Lecturer at the same university.

His research interests are the diplomatic relations of both Koreas with Latin American countries, the Global Cold War and the history of the Korean diaspora in Chile.

He is also editor of a revised and expanded edition of Eduardo Murillo Ugarte’s book “Hell in North Korea”, one of the few testimonies of a Western prisoner of conscience in North Korea during the 1960s.

As a member of the CSSR-Korea project, Camilo’s research primarily centres on the political history and diplomatic exchanges between the DPRK, CSSR, and LATAM countries.

Academia: https://sussex.academia.edu/CamiloAguirre