Ghost ships as spectral geography: North Korean necro-mobilities

Winstanley-Chesters, R (2020) 'Ghost ships as spectral geography: North Korean necro-mobilities.' International Journal of Diaspora & Cultural Criticism. ISSN 2005 3037 (Forthcoming)


North Koreans have always been required to work hard, to offer their bodies, spirits and lives to serve Pyongyang’s developmental ambitions and agendas. When times have been difficult or complicated North Korean citizens have been implored by both national media and government and local/regional agencies to work harder, to dig more from the ground and harvest more from the forests. North Koreans who live in coastal communities have also been encouraged by bureaucracies and institutions to extract more from the free commons offered by the seas and oceans. North Korea has often faced difficulties and complications when it comes to fishing capabilities and capacities, inspite of long running and extensive ambitions to become a global fishing power. North Koreans who have not been traditionally part of the nation’s maritime industries, have thus set to sea underprepared, under-resourced and lacking in capabilities. Given the vagaries of weather, the challenges of navigation and simple bad lack, many of these North Koreans have come to grief on the high seas, become lost and disorientated, running out of food and expiring far from their native shores. Months later their vessels have arrived unannounced and unexpected on the shores of Hokkaido and the Liaoning peninsula and other places, ship intact but with a macabre crew of highly mobile, but no longer living North Koreans. These ships and their crews have been termed ‘ghost ships’ and they have provided an extraordinary challenge for regional authorities on how to manage and deal with this form of North Korean mobility. Building from work on spectral and ghostly geographies, this paper considers the mobilities and immobilities of these ships and their crews, including recent work on necro-mobilities. It seeks the spaces created for them on the foreign shores they meet, and the conceptual spaces their bodies create in the regional politics of East Asia. Finally it places them within the wider frame of active and lively materials from North Korea and the problems generated by their mobilities and immobilities.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: North Korea, ghost ships, necro-mobilities, spectral geographies, fishing
Divisions: School of Science
Date Deposited: 31 Mar 2020 14:15
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2020 14:16
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