The Thread of Juche: Vinalon, a Figuration between Science and Society in North Korea, 1948-1970


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This dissertation examines how the successful industrial production of vinalon contributed to formulating the idea of Juche (self-reliance) in North Korea in the 1950s and 1960s. Vinalon is a synthetic fiber developed by a Korean scientist during the colonial era that uses hard coal and limestone, which are abundant in North Korea, as its main raw materials. Significantly, the construction of the vinalon factory was completed by North Korea’s own efforts in 1961. For these reasons, vinalon came to be known as “Juche fiber.” Focusing on the agency of the vinalon products in people’s everyday lives, this project explores the interaction between science and society by looking at vinalon as a thread that played a pivotal role in weaving the Juche discourse into North Korean society.