The Journal of Asian Studies

Let's Go to the Moon: Science Fiction in the North Korean Children's Magazine Adong Munhak, 1956–1965

Dafna Zur


Science fiction narratives appeared in the North Korean children's magazine Adong munhak between 1956 and 1965, and they bear witness to the significant Soviet influence in this formative period of the DPRK. Moving beyond questions of authenticity and imitation, however, this article locates the science fiction narrative within North Korean discourses on children's literature preoccupied with the role of fiction as both a reflection of the real and a projection of the imminent, utopian future. Through a close reading of science fiction narratives from this period, this article underscores the way in which science, technology, and the environment are implicated in North Korean political discourses of development, and points to the way in which these works resolve the inherent tension between the desirable and seemingly contradictory qualities of the ideal scientist—obedient servant of the collective and indefatigable questioner—to establish the child-scientist as the new protagonist of the DPRK.

Dafna Zur ( is Assistant Professor in the East Asian Languages and Cultures Department at Stanford University.