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Thomas Stock is Humboldt-visiting fellow at the HCTS



10 September 2020

Dr. Thomas Stock is an intellectual historian of Korea and the Cold War, specialized in the evolution of North Korean ideology, global Marxism-Leninism, and comparative Communism. Upon the invitation of Professor
Harald Fuess (Cultural Economic History), he recently joined the HCTS to complete his current research project on the developments of North Korean ideology in a transcultural perspective. He will conduct his research project at the HCTS until September 2021.


Stock’s present investigation focuses on the developments occurred within North Korean ideology during the 1980s, such as the revival of Marxism-Leninism in the official discourse, the North Korean regime’s reaction to intellectual trends under Gorbachev, and the use of “peace” as a propagandistic tool. His research shows that these transformations stemmed from concrete, empirically verifiable responses to global Marxist-Leninist debates that took place at specific points in time across the globe, rather than being a by-product of Confucianism, colonial legacies, or – as the North Korean propaganda claims – Kim Il Sung’s guerrilla struggle.


Drawing upon archival material from East Europe, especially East Germany, as well as North Korean party publications, Stock’s mapping of Pyongyang’s involvement in transnational intellectual debates allows him to re-frame North Korean ideology as a product of global Marxism-Leninism. This view challenges localized renderings of North Korean ideology as of a “postcolonial oddball” that has little to share with the ideological developments occurred in other socialist countries.


Dr. Thomas Stock received his PhD in Asian Languages and Cultures from the
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 2018; after that, he worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the Research Institute for Korean Studies of
Korea University, Seoul. His recent publications include “
Beyond the Myth of Idealism: North Korea’s Marxist-Leninist Materialism and Its Place in the Global Intellectual History of the Cold War,” and “
North Korea’s Marxism-Leninism: Fraternal Criticisms and the Development of North Korean Ideology in the 1960s.”