In Among Women across Worlds: North Korea in the Global Cold War (Cornell University Press, 2023), Suzy Kim follows Korean women’s engagement in a broader international women’s movement from the beginnings of the Korean War in the 1940s until International Women’s Year in 1975. Obscured by layers of “cascading erasures,” the communist women of North Korea have been overlooked in traditional narratives of Asian and feminist history. By tracing their participation in global networks like the Women’s International Democratic Federation, Kim excavates their ideas about work and family, war and peace, and imperialism and capitalism. Turning to women’s magazines, traditional dance, socialist films, and the archives of international organizations, the book resurrects figures like Pak Chong-ae and the Korean Democratic Women’s Union and the transnational circulation of their political, economic, and cultural contributions. Many of their ideas remain strikingly contemporary—from the equitable distribution of domestic labor to an intersectional understanding of justice—and presage debates that feminists continue to grapple with today.
Rebecca Turkington is a PhD Candidate in History at Cambridge University studying transnational women’s networks.