Student Spotlight

8th Annual Korean Studies Writing Prize Awarded

Taehwa Hong portrait

Taehwa Hong (BA '21 International Relations) has been awarded the 8th annual Korea Program Prize for Writing in Korean Studies, for his paper "North Korea in the Soviet-Albanian Dispute." 

Hong’s paper  "is an outstanding piece of research and writing. " according to Professor Yong Suk Lee, Center Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies,  "The paper delves into a rather novel topic - how North Korea diplomatically responded to the Albanian Crisis between the two socialist powers, the Soviet Union and China. It underscores how North Korea maintained a calculated and rational approach to diplomacy, something that the Western media often doubts.”

In Hong's own words: "While much attention is on North Korea’s nuclear weapons development, the history of North Korea’s broader foreign policy is often overlooked. With this paper, I hoped to illuminate North Korea’s position on the Soviet-Albanian dispute, which reveals Pyongyang’s profound fear of abandonment by the Soviet Union. The Soviet-Albanian dispute was a litmus test for Pyongyang’s loyalty to Moscow amid the intensifying Sino-Soviet split. Albania was one of few Chinese allies in the socialist camp, and the dispute quickly turned into a proxy confrontation. Despite ideological sympathy for Albania, North Korea recognized the Soviet Union as the leader of the socialist world. Pyongyang needed Soviet support in the Korean peninsula against the U.S. and South Korea. China also proved incapable of providing an adequate counterweight to the Soviet Union, as it was suffering from the failures of the Great Leap Forward. In 2019, Pyongyang is engaged in a negotiation on its nuclear weapons, which some believe could be the regime’s last chance to reset its relations with not only South Korea, but also with the U.S. and China. It would be interesting to look at the choices Pyongyang makes, six decades later after the Soviet-Albanian dispute and the Sino-Soviet split, yet again caught between two great powers."

Sponsored by the Korea Program and the Center for East Asian Studies, the writing prize recognizes and rewards outstanding examples of writing by Stanford students in an essay, term paper or thesis produced during the current academic year in any discipline within the area of Korean studies, broadly defined. The competition is open to both undergraduate and graduate students.

Past Recipients:

7th Annual Prize (2018)

6th Annual Prize (2017)

5th Annual Prize (2016)

4th Annual Prize (2015)

3rd Annual Prize (2014)

2nd Annual Prize (2013)

1st Annual Prize (2012)