North Korea is one of a very small number of countries in the world that an anthropologist has not set foot in with the purpose of conducting long-term ethnographic fieldwork. Given the country’s closed nature, anthropology seems to be the least qualified discipline with which to approach North Korea. Upon closer examination, however, this might not be the case; anthropology may offer unexpected advantages, not only permitting us to study North Korea but also to reflect on aspects of our own societies and cultures with a critical eye. This article explores both the challenges to be faced and the rewards to be gained by an anthropologist studying North Korea.

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