Brian Reynolds Myers

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Brian Reynolds Myers
Born Brian Reynolds Myers
1963 (age 50–51)[1]
New Jersey, U.S.
Nationality American
Other names B.R. Myers
Alma mater Ruhr University
University of Tübingen
Occupation Associate professor
Organization Dongseo University[2]
Busan, South Korea
Known for The Cleanest Race (2010)
A Reader's Manifesto (2002)

Brian Reynolds "B.R." Myers (born 1963) is an American associate professor of international studies at Dongseo University in Busan, South Korea, best known for his works regarding North Korean history.

Myers is a contributing editor for The Atlantic, and an opinion columnist for the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. He is the author of Han Sǒrya and North Korean Literature, published by Cornell in 1994, A Reader's Manifesto, published by Melville House in 2002, and The Cleanest Race, published by Melville House, in 2010.

Early life and education[edit]

Myers was born in the U.S. state of New Jersey, spent his childhood in Bermuda and his youth in South Africa, and received graduate education in Germany.[3][4] He earned an MA degree in Soviet studies at Ruhr University (1989) and a PhD degree in North Korean literature at the University of Tübingen (1992). Myers subsequently taught German in Japan[4] and worked for the Mercedes-Benz Beijing Liaison Office in 1996.[5]

Before his appointment at Dongseo University, Myers lectured in North Korean literature and society at the Korea University North Korean Studies Department.[6] He also taught globalization and North Korean literature at the Inje University Korean Studies Department.[7]

Career[edit]

North Korea and post-modernism[edit]

Myers’ Han Sŏrya and the North Korean literature: The Failure of Socialist Realism in the DPRK was adapted from his 1992 dissertation at the University of Tübingen and published as the sixty-ninth volume of the Cornell East Asia Series.[8] A Reader’s Manifesto: An Attack on the Growing Pretentiousness in American Literary Prose was developed from his critical review essay of the same name published in the Atlantic in 2001.[9]

The Cleanest Race[edit]

The Cleanest Race: How North Koreans See Themselves and Why It Matters is an examination of North Korean propaganda, arguing that North Korea under Kim Jong Il was guided by “a paranoid, race-based nationalism with roots in Japanese fascism.”[10] Myers argues that North Korea's political system is not based on Communism or Stalinism, and that the juche ideology is not really an ideology at all but a sham to establish Kim Il-sung's credentials as a thinker alongside Mao Zedong.[11]

Myers argues that the more recent post Cold War attempts to understand North Korea as a Confucian patriarchy based on the filial piety of Kim Jong-Il, and the dynastic transfer of power from his father are equally misguided, and that the North Korean leadership is maternalist rather than paternalist.[12]

Myers’ opinion columns for the Atlantic, New York Times, and Wall Street Journal generally focus on North Korea, which he says is not a Marxist-Leninist or Stalinist state, but “a national-socialist country.”[13]

Book reviews[edit]

His book reviews have included critical appraisals of American historian Bruce Cumings,[14] American author Toni Morrison,[15] American author Denis Johnson,[16] and South Korean novelist Hwang Sok-yong.[17] His most recent major review was a scathing takedown of American novelist Jonathan Franzen's celebrated novel Freedom.[18]

Myers recently explained the common public perception of the ROKS Cheonan sinking in South Korea in respect to its perception to North Korea.[19]

Criticism[edit]

Myers’ books on North Korea have been challenged by some academic critics. South Korean literary critic Yearn Hong Choi, for example, was not convinced with the thesis of Han Sǒrya and North Korean Literature:

How can Myers say that he [Han Sǒrya] is not a socialist realist? How can Myers say that Han's thought is not compatible with communist ideology? I can understand Myers’s views on orthodox socialist realism, yet I see socialist realism abundantly present in North Korean literature: North Korean writers still advocate socialist realism. Myers simply does not interpret socialist realism as they do.

—Yearn Hong Choi[20]

Russian historian Andrei Lankov, however, found Han Sǒrya and North Korean Literature to be “very interesting”[21] and favorably reviewed The Cleanest Race as taking a “fresh approach” on North Korea.[22] Lankov said Myers' and Tatiana Gabroussenko's works were informative of North Korea's propaganda and the flexibility of "Pyongyang's agitprop shock brigades".[23]

Based on his own experiences living in North Korea, Felix Abt described Myers' arguments as "shaky". Having seen the extent to which the people were indoctrinated about Juche, Abt wrote it was "rather absurd" to describe the ideology as "window-dressing" for foreigners. He also questioned how three decades of Japanese occupation could have such a profound ideological impact.[24]

Personal life[edit]

Myers is married to a South Korean woman and lives and teaches in South Korea. Politically, Myers is a supporter of the Green Party of the United States, veganism, and animal rights.[4]

Bibliography[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Myers, B. R., 1963-". Lawrence Public Library Catalog. Retrieved February 1, 2010. "Myers, B. R., 1963-" 
  2. ^ "Dongseo 114". Dongseo University. Retrieved February 1, 2010. 
  3. ^ Rosett, Claudia (August 30, 2002). "How Dare He! Reviled Critic Gets the Last Word". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved March 24, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c Kim, Sun-jung. "The Remarkable B. R. Myers Revealed". JOINS N.d. Retrieved January 2, 2010. [dead link]
  5. ^ Karen K. Smith. “KS Contact Info for Brian Myers?” KoreaWeb.ws. 20 November 2008. (Accessed February 1, 2010)
  6. ^ 북한학과 (Puk’an hakkwa; North Korean Studies Department). Korea University. (Accessed February 1, 2010)
  7. ^ 2006학년도 1학기 강연내용 (2006 School Year First Semester Lecture Content). Korea University. (Accessed February 1, 2010)
  8. ^ “Han Sŏrya and North Korean Literature.” Bibliothekskatalog Tübingen. Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen. (Accessed February 1, 2010)
  9. ^ B. R. Myers. “A Reader’s Manifesto: An Attack on the Growing Pretentiousness in American Literary Prose.” Atlantic. July/August 2001. (Accessed February 1, 2010)
  10. ^ “Book Discussion with Author B. R. Myers.” North Korea International Documentation Project. Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. (Accessed February 1, 2010)
  11. ^ "Immersion in propaganda, race-based nationalism and the un-figure-outable vortex of Juche Thought: Colin Marshall talks to B.R. Myers, author of The Cleanest Race: How North Koreans See Themselves and Why it Matters". Retrieved 2010-04-13. 
  12. ^ Bunch, Sonny (2010-06-01). "North Korea's Cultural Shackes. The Cleanest Race by B.R. Myers". Policy Review. Books (161). 
  13. ^ “The Constitution of Kim Jong Il.” Wall Street Journal. 1 October 2009. (Accessed February 1, 2010)
  14. ^ “Mother of All Mothers: The Leadership Secrets of Kim Jong Il.” Atlantic. September 2004. (Accessed February 1, 2010)
  15. ^ B.R. Myers. “Mercy!” Atlantic. January/February 2009. (Accessed February 1, 2010)
  16. ^ B. R. Myers. “A Bright Shining Lie.” Atlantic. December 2007 (Accessed February 1, 2010)
  17. ^ B. R. Myers. “The Caged Bird Sings.” New York Times. 8 September 2008. (Accessed February 1, 2010)
  18. ^ B. R. Myers. “Smaller Than Life Atlantic. October 2010 (Accessed October 15, 2011)
  19. ^ Myers, Brian Reynolds (2010-05-27). "South Korea’s Collective Shrug". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-29. 
  20. ^ Yearn Hong Choi. Review of Han Sǒrya and North Korean Literature. World Literature Today. Vol. 69. No. 1. Winter 1995. p. 230. JSTOR. (Accessed February 1, 2010)
  21. ^ “Andrei Lankov. KS Re: Contact Info for Brian Myers?” KoreaWeb.ws. 21 November 1998 (Accessed February 1, 2010)
  22. ^ Andrei Lankov. Review of The Cleanest Race. Far Eastern Economic Review. 4 December 2010. (Accessed February 1, 2010)
  23. ^ Lankov, Andrei (2013). The Real North Korea. Oxford University Press. p. 104. ISBN 978-0-19-996429-1. 
  24. ^ Abt, Felix (2014). A Capitalist in North Korea: My Seven Years in the Hermit Kingdom. Tuttle Publishing. pp. 62–63. ISBN 9780804844390. 

External links[edit]