Supervised meeting week 7

The first goal of last Tuesday’s session was to specify our research scope. Even if we kept a general question “What is the cost of living online in the 21st century?”, we decided to orientate our research towards the notions of society of control and surveillance state.

Then, we discussed about our presentation structure. The current plan is to divide the presentation into 3 parts. The first one would be more theoretical, the second one analytical and the third one would contain a focus group. We also tried to find ideas to make our presentation more interactive: we thought of using tools like live time polls.

As we did not get the ethical approval yet, it is not sure that we will be able to do a focus group. While waiting for a final response, we plan to work independently on the two first parts to not waste time.

This introduces the second main discussion we had during the supervised meeting: how do we distribute the parts and themes among each group member? How do English, Geography or Politics interfere here? George gave us this as a homework for the next session and asked us to have a presentation plan ready.

 

The rest of the supervised meeting consisted in a brainstorming where George asked precisions about our ideas. Several interesting questions came out:

  • On which geographical area should our research focus? We are thinking to focus on the West and China, China applying possibly Western’s ideas of surveillance more explicitly.
  • How brutal is the functioning of the online life, can the individual notice that he potentially lives in a society of control?
  • What is the importance of language in the application of a society of control? Do the language used in the ‘terms and conditions” provide an insight of manipulations from the power structures?
  • How do gender, race or sexuality interfere with this notion of surveillance state? Do humans interact differently with it?
  • Can some political theories be applied to this presentation? Possible theories are realism, authoritarianism and liberalism.

Most importantly, George reminded us to permanently think about linking our findings to the notion of conflict, to avoid being out of topic.

GROUP MEETING 7 (6TH MARCH)

As outlined in the agenda for the meeting, we discussed each of our individual research paths and brought together our ideas to begin collating a presentation plan. Notes on this discussion are shown under the following four sections.

  1. Discuss/read each others research.
  • Gabe: The digital age has changed the conflict dramatically because cyber warfare has created an attribution problem so it is unclear which states, or any, are acting at particular times.
  • Tash: The digital age has made the conflict more visible and broadened the discussion internationally, using film as a new platform.
  • Ally: The digital age has been transformed through the use of different digital sources, as it builds a broader and more contemporary picture of the conflict as well as creating new platforms to portray the difference between US and North Korean perspectives.
  • Paul: Comment a sentence of your conclusions so far.

2.  Bring Gabe’s, Ally’s and Tash’s research together.

  • The links between our research conclusions show that there is overlap between each of our individual pathways.
  • Key themes of attribution, visibility and perspective permeate our research.

3. Decide the form for our presentation.

  • Plan: Use a google slides document to collate our presentation notes. After collating our notes on the google slides, we can pick out the key points to put into a presentation script.
  • Resources and visual aids: Placing screenshots or film clips in the slides can aid individual parts of the presentation.
  • Presentation: Individual components speaking 3 minutes to allow for time for collaborate, interdisciplinary contributions.
  • Imaginative and creative approach: Once we have collated our materials, discuss how we can integrate more interactive elements for our presentation. Inspired by ‘The Interview’, use an interview style and pointer questions to direct the direction of the presentation. George to act as the interviewer, reading questions off a script we have written and provided. In an interview style, we can interrupt each other and add comments to each of our question answers.
  • Referencing system: Chicago.

4. Pick some dates to work on the presentation together.

  • Assess how far each group member gets with their individual research by next week and then decide how long we will need to practise the presentation, potentially arranging extra practise meetings if needed.

To do for next meeting:

  • Draft 3 questions that would prompt individual research in an interview style.
  • Everyone create some slides to answer individual questions and post on the google slides (https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1uFzU-my8mqPt91ERlTQ7uwtW67cYNmmPtlSE8ySQ88U/edit?usp=sharing)
  • Draft 1 minute answers to each of the individual questions, making sure to address: 1. methods, 2. materials, 3. conclusions, 4. reflecting on opportunities and challenges of interdisciplinary research and team working.
  • Post bibliography contributions on the last slide using the Chicago referencing system.
  • Next week: Post a draft list of interview questions and organise the order.

INDIVIDUAL RESEARCH (PART 1): GABRIEL WHITEHEAD

Paths

  1. Conflict with North Korea in the digital Age (Cyber Warfare)

Background on Cyber Warfare (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyberwarfare)

  • We can distinguish between hard threats, cyber warfare used to support traditional warfare and soft threats such as espionage and propaganda.
  • Types: espionage, sabotage, electrical power grid, propaganda.
  • Two Instances of North Korean Cyber Warfare

 1. WannaCry: 2017 worldwide cyberattack originating from North Korea or agencies working for the country.

  • Attribution via linguistic analysis.
  • One of the largest agencies struck by the attack was the National Health Service hospitals in England and Scotland, and up to 70,000 devices – including computers, MRI scanners, blood-storage refrigerators and theatre equipment – may have been affected. On 12 May, some NHS services had to turn away non-critical emergencies, and some ambulances were diverted.
  • US intelligence agencies knew about the exploit for a while but did nothing about it in order to stockpile it for offensive purposes.
  • Microsoft president and chief legal officer Brad Smith wrote, “Repeatedly, exploits in the hands of governments have leaked into the public domain and caused widespread damage. An equivalent scenario with conventional weapons would be the U.S. military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen.

2. Lazarus Group 2014: cyberattack on Sony Picture after the release of The Interview

  • Details below.

Reading

Haggard, Stephan, and Jon R. Lindsay. “North Korea and the Sony Hack: exporting instability through cyberspace.” (2015).

  • The hack ‘resembled a style of asymmetric conflict that North Korea has undertaken vis-a-vis South Korea and the United State for decades, and particularly since important political developments on the peninsula in 2008. 
  • Stability-Instability Paradox: Appearance of persistent instability while the risk of large-scale conflict is actually relatively slight. Stable deterrence generates this paradox, ‘the use of threats to attenuate the wrists of general war, ironically, can incentivize lower-level aggression.’ (4)
    • Seoul is so close to North Korea, rules out American attack.
      • So, the digital conflict is the consequence of a stalemated physical conflict. 
    • Good summary on how the conflict was waged leading up to the invention of the internet. (4)
      • 2008: Collapse of the Six Party Talks
      • May 2009: Second Nuclear Test
      • February 2013: Third Nuclear Test
      • March 2010: Sank a South Korean Corvette, with the loss of 46 lives.
      • November 2010: Shelled the Island of Yeonpyeong
    • ‘There provocations were carefully calculated to inflict small costs and generate some risk of escalation, but ultimately avoided crossing thresholds that would trigger retaliation. (4)
      • ‘In response South Korea and the United states were repeatedly challenged to adjust response thresholds and to maintain and toughen the credibility of deterrence.’ (4) – This the repeating patter of the paradox.
    • Key: ‘Cyberspace provides yet another domain for the stability-instability paradox to play out.’
      • ‘South Korean Cyberspace is a target-rich environment for an asymmetric attacker. Because no one gets hurt or killed through distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks or espionage instructions, and because digital damage can often be mitigated, North Korean cyber harassment takes place well below the threshold for retaliation.’ (4)
    • North Korea’s internet: relatively limited cyber risks, only 1,024 IP addresses and limited broadband access. (link to Ally’s research)
    • Attribution problem: ‘Hackers use indirection and deception within large-scale computing infrastructure to hide their identity.’ (4)
      • ‘They may also draw on ‘networks of sympathetic non-state actors.’
      • ‘Plausible deniability makes it difficult to generate support for retaliatory actions, as the Sony hack amply illustrates.’
    • Key: We cannot attribute North Korean Cyberattacks solely by the fact that the state has strong motives.
    • Some dates:
      • 1980s: Country began investing in cyber capabilities in the late 1980s, almost certainly with Chinese support.
      • 2009: General Reconnaissance Bureau:
        • Cyber Units 91 and 121 have responsibility for psychological warfare, propaganda, and exploitation attacks against US and South Korean Targets.
        • May have up to 1,400 cyber operators.
      • 2010: First known direct connection to the Internet
    • Traces history of cyberattacks on page 5.
    • This culminated in the Sony Hack, the main difference being NK targeted an entity on North American soil, and enjoyed some success in compelling a policy change by the target (SPE).
    • Why would they risk such a direct attack?
      • ‘NK political system is extremely personalist in form, and rests on the virtual deification of the leader.’ 
    • The release of the The Interview coincided with UN votes Commission of Inquiry report on human rights abuses. 
      • UN, digital global democracy, another element to study in all this?
    • Talk of ‘transborder leakage’ when talking about NK’s control of information, does it make sense to talk of it as such when this information war is waged online? (6)
    • Three lines that NK crossed which made US response inevitable:
      • ‘in threatening consequences against a private firm if it released a film, North Korea elevated a technical intrusion into a First Amendment issue.’ (6)
      • ‘the attackers threatened not only harm in cyberspace but also physical harm to the families of Sony employees’ along with threats against theatres showing The Interview. (6)
        • Note, US response to the hack – financial sanctions – occurred outside of the cyber domain. ‘The case suggests that cyber threats become most salient when coupled to actions in other domains on the part of the perpetrator.’ (6)
      • ‘audience costs’ (7)
      • ‘One lesson from cybersecurity is that ambiguity both enable and constraints coercion.’ (7)
      • The attribution problem is going to be less of a problem, as the American government has become more sophisticated in working out who carries out cyberattacks. (7)

Analysis

  • In one way the digital age has changed the international conflict dramatically. With the attribution of cyberattacks being difficult it is unclear which states are acting in the conflict or indeed whether they are states at all.
  • Where attribution can be attributed however, NK digital warfare resembles the stability-instability paradox of nuclear armament and testing.
  • We should bear in mind that we can see the NK’s response to The Interview in a broader context. Namely also in reaction to a UN report on human rights abuses there.
    • The UN as a sort of digital and global democratic body might be another element to study in all this.
  • Methodological issue: There is a limit to how much we can study digital conflict as separate from physical conflict, as the following example shows they are interlinked. It is noted that the US responses to the hack – financial sanctions occurred outside of the cyber domain.

More readings and pathways to follow…

INDIVIDUAL RESEARCH (PART 1): ALLY FAUGHNAN

Individual research path:

  1. Historically analyse the overlap between ‘The Interview’ and ‘Inside North Korea’ documentary
  2. Methodological issues around using digital means as historical sources
  3. Contextualise contemporary history of the North Korea/US conflict
  1. Historically analyse the overlap between ‘The Interview’ and ‘Inside North Korea’ documentary

‘The Interview’ notes:

  • Opening of the film opens to conflict between North Korea and US
  • Aims to resurrect a journalistic style depiction of reality through news programme cutouts and tv show but still fiction
  • Depiction of Kim Jong Un
  • Contrast between the ‘fake’ and ‘real’ version of North Korea in the film and the reality of North Korea / 1:12 realisation of the fake store – breaking the image
  • 0:36 James Franco asks about the history of the nation ‘I hear everyone is starving to death’ – response that ‘this is a common misconception’ with an ‘abundance of food’ and show the journalists the fake food store with the ‘fat child’ holding a lollipop outside / 1:14 character claims numbers given on potato output exaggerated and confesses to being the propagandist for the totalitarian dictatorship
  • 0:50 Kim Jon Un replies to James Franco to say that ‘for decades you’ve heard false rumours’ and that it is all American propaganda surrounding the starvation of the country
  • 1:01 ‘Kim is a master at manipulating the media’
  • 1:17 ‘how many times can America make the same mistake’ regarding the killing of Kim in reference to using assassination as a conclusive solution
  • 1:25 ‘war in North Korea entirely the fault of America’
  • 2/3 of the country (16 million people) hungry, 800 million on nuclear – Kim response ‘how have I managed to keep my country so well nourished despite the harsh and unjust economic sanctions imposed on North Korea by the United States’
  • North Korean landscapes: where was it actually filmed
  • Ending falls into complete fiction: ‘democratic elections to be held’

‘Inside North Korea’ notes:

  • Filmed in 2012? would this documentary have been possible in 2018/post-conflict
  • Opening on the military marching: focus on the uniformity, militant (2 mil troops on North, 5 mill on South, missiles, mines on border, tanks, checkpoints)
  • Took a year and a half to get in: not want to ruin the image of their hermogonous society
  • Had to enter in via south Korea DMZ (boarder), have to go through indoctrination session
  • Pilgrimage site towards families split by the boarder
  • Bribed to get a visa
  • No music, phone, printed material allowed into North Korea
  • Pyongyang: run down, falling apart
  • ‘on a tour’ of North Korea, selective view of the country
  • Indoctrination of ‘how bad America is’, anti-imperalist
  • ‘crazy food, politics’
  • How do they have nuke if they don’t even have electricity ‘4th largest army in the world’
  • The guards get to indulge with the touristic regime: an escape from their oppressive role
  • Threatened with criminal charges of gross insensitive crimes to the republic
  • Constantly cuts away to the Korean propaganda film
  • 1994 death of president: still pay respects to Kim Il Sung
  • International Friendship Museum: took away their memory card when found them filming – creating an image that the whole world thinks Kim Il Sung/Kim Jong Il (?) was the best president and worshiped by all other countries and leaders
  • Subway: shown the two monumental and lavish stations
  • Compares to 1930/50s Russia/Soviet Union – in a time machine
  • Propaganda in ‘The People’s Library’ that Kim Jong Il created ‘the best desk ever’ that you can change the level
  • Dam built in fact became detrimental to the crop growth and became a contributing factor to the starvation of the country
  • Shown all the incredible talented children: all for show
  • Arian Games: 120,000 people brought together to put on a show of the history of the Korean revolution, ‘only reason tourists allowed into NK’

Analysis:

  • Does this put together a depiction of events? As ‘Inside North Korea’ was filmed in 2012 and ‘The Interview’ in 2014, the conflict physically and digitally developed from the former to the latter.

‘The Interview’ (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Interview):

  • Film is heavily inspired by the Vice documentary
  • June 2014, North Korean government threatened US if the film was released, causing a release delay from October to December (and supposedly re-edited to make more acceptable
  • Production development: original script based on fake dictator from a fake country before focus turned to Kim Jong Il, and then Kim Jong Un after the formers death
  • Co-writer Dan Sterling read non-fiction books and video footage about North Korea as more historically accurate research
  • Filming: Filmed in Vancouver and through the use of visual effects to create the scenes
  • Pre-release reaction: KCNA (Korean Central News Agency) reported stern and merciless retaliation if film was released and saw it as an act of terrorism.
  • Release: Distribution was limited across Asia-Pacific region. South to North Korean distribution plans via balloon drops and air-drops on memory sticks.

The Nation, ‘What ‘The Interview’ Gets Right-and Wrong-About US Policy Toward North Korea’, 2015 (https://www.thenation.com/article/what-interview-gets-right-and-wrong-about-us-policy-towards-north-korea/):

  • Claims film not worth an international uproar, more about America than North Korea (showing its capitalism agenda ‘to exploit a gulag nation for a quick buck’
  • Got right: ‘North Korea’s history of manipulation the media and presenting Pyongyang as a Protemkin capital’
  • Got wrong: pan-Asian non-Korean songs, American actors playing Korean characters, fictitious assassination of Kim Jong-un (blown to pieces representing dehumanisation in which Americans view North Koreans)
  1. Methodological issues around using digital means as historical sources
  • Questions arise surrounding history as a form of story-telling and it becomes evident that through film, a broader and more contemporary picture can be built.
  • Digital culture has portrayed history in a new light and shows the shift towards a more collaborative approach to history with the influence of media specialists.

Readings:

R. C. Raack, ‘Historiography as Cinematography: A Prolegomenon to Film Work for Historians’ (http://www.jstor.org/stable/260545):

  • Highlights that films can be used as propaganda to portray political messages as well as to recall the past
  • Cinematograph first used for public entertainment but developed into an information-providing device
  • History in film reveals new historical evidence with effective didactic form and emotional power of words
  • Most valuable as historical sources pre-editing as completed films involve the creator’s point of view
  • ‘Statements fail to present the reality of the experience of the people who worked through the events – as we know ourselves through experience: ideas, words, images, preoccupations, distractions, sensory deceptions, conscious and unconscious motives and emotions, and whatever else makes up life’s daily perceptions’
  • Film offers psychological prophylaxis, conveys experience in memory and through the power of film with sound
  • Media records as sources of information: edited and unedited can be deliberately falsified
  • Technical limitations can make film research difficult but technical effects can add to the story-telling
  • Methodological problems same for film and sound as prose: research and collection of dependable material, communication of general and specific issues and discovery of historical truth
  • Historians working with filmmakers and sound technicians to overcome these problems from different perspectives

Propaganda:

  • The use of propaganda becomes an interesting way to look at the digital means as historical sources. The contrast between US and North Korean images depict very different sides of the story, not only showing the bias but that the conflict must be understood from two different perspectives.

North Korea:

West:

  1. Contextualise contemporary history of the North Korea/US conflict
  • When does history become history? By looking at what preceded allows for a better understanding of the transformation of the conflict.
  • Observing the physical conflict also helps to understand the digital conflict.
  • Comparing the American and North Korean digital spheres helps to analyse how far North Korea is stuck in a different digital age.

Internet access

  • There is quite a significant comparison to be made to the liberty of internet access in the US to that in North Korea.

Internet in North Korea:

  • (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_in_North_Korea): Strictly limited, only permitted with special authorisation and primarily used for government purposes. Total amount of internet used is estimated at no more that a few thousand (out of average, estimated population of 25 million). Apple, Sony and Microsoft not allowed to distribute products so third-party companies emerged to sell them to customers. Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and South Korean sites started to be blocked in 2016, acting as a form of censorship towards media and public press.
  • (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-37426725): News-focused sites show a basic array of propaganda which attracts little attention. Not making much effort to disguise the fact that the North Korean digital platforms are not up-to-date with Western spheres portrays the idea that they have not acknowledged the significance of the digital conflict as much as the West.

North Korean context:

Walter C. Clemens Jr., ‘How Korea Became Korea’ (http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1c84fd1.7):

  • Must know social, cultural and ethnic Korea to understand political and nuclear Korea
  • Korea’s past consecrated the idea of authoritarian rule
  • Kim Il Sung and successors taught North Koreans to believe their their people and supreme leaders are one (borrowed from Japanese ideology and Korean mythology)
  • Leadership paid obeisance to Marxism but ranked subjective power above material determinism
  • From first half of 17th c and second half of 19th c Korea became a virtual ‘hermit kingdom’ and foreign contacts were limited during this period: limited commerce from West, no foreigners except certain envoys and merchants allowed to visit, Koreans not permitted to go abroad or associate with illegal entrants – virtually independent by end of 19th c
  • Confucianism state of religion in late 14th c: contributed to risk-taking style of behaviour, created aspirations for acceptance and anxiety of unworthiness leading to own sense of virtue and wickedness of opponents, instilled discipline and respect for authority
  • Korean family structure reflects state structure: superior role of patriarch, deprived of physical satisfaction (constraint towards intimacy) and ego gratification (domination of the father figure) arguably led to violence and sadistic tendencies
  • North Korea centralised system of power, adapted from Stalinist models (centralised oligarchy with agricultural framework)
  • Korean education focused on exams, rote learning, discipline, long hours of study and private cram schools
  • Protestant missionary enterprise in Korea consisted of a triad of efforts: evangelism, education and medicine: nationalism, progress and Christian faith became linked in minds of young and progressive Koreans but Christian concept of individual worth found expression in a lengthy struggle for human rights and democracy (both Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un harboured any soft spot for Christianity)
  • North Korea fusion of politics and religion encourages fantasies about cause and effect: political leaders expected to have superhuman powers (scapegoat issue)
  • Divide between confident and dynamic South and centralised by stagnating North

Yoo Hyang Kim, ‘North Korea’s Cyberpath’ (http://www.jstor.org/stable/42704472):

  • Lack of IT developments show the obstruction by leadership to limit the public as openness would have a negative impact on the stability of the authoritarian regime.
  • Evident that there has been development but their not as successful as in the West.
  • Places politics as a decisive factor in the limitation of these developments.

GROUP MEETING 6 (FEB 27)

Met briefly to catch up on the research that we are all just starting. For next week we are aiming to present our individual research to each other so we can start preparing the presentation.

Everyone to keep each other updated on the direction of your research as they do it.

Working Towards Presentation

Having delved individually into our research now the challenge will be to return to our question and answer it collectively. Below seems to be the shape our presentation will take.

Question: How has the digital age transformed international conflict with North Korea

  • Tash: Looking at film, the interview as a sort of digital weaponry, propaganda?
  • Gabe: Cyber warfare as a new type of conflict made possible by the digital age.
  • Ally:
    • To contest some of our above points by considering Methodological issues around using digital means as historical sources.
    • Contextual Gabe’s research into cyber warfare, setting the bigger picture.
    • Add to Tash’s close reading of the films.
  • Paul: Consider how these events weigh ethically and how they force redefinitions of national battleground.

Some useful background reading

  • Some interesting stuff here around how the filmmakers used documentaries as part of their research, consulted someone in the US state department on accuracy, and then later had to edit our aspects that had a strong rapport with reality.
    • See also the political reaction and hacking incident and the effect the limited release of the film had on other films on North Korea in production.
Suk-Young Kim 1970-
  • North Korean leader Kim Il-sung believed[2] in Lenin‘s maxim: “Cinema is the most important of all arts.”
  • Another way film can be political: In a sign of thawing relations, the animated film, Empress Chung (2005), is a co-production of South and North Korea. This film is said to be the first released simultaneously in both countries. Another recent North/South co-production is the 3-D animated television series Lazy Cat Dinga.

GROUP MEETING 3 (30TH JAN)

In light of the comments from our second meeting and previous blog post, George presented some initial questions regarding three areas which we considered and spoke about as a group.

  1. How might we focus the research project to make the handling of the question and the presentation more specific?
  • Shifting the focus away from the North vs. South Korean conflict and investigating the conflict between North Korea and the Western Influence.
  • We will also think about how geopolitical structures historically and still stem from this conflict, how America has placed itself within it the conflict and what political and philosophical changes through history have caused the conflict to engulf the West.
  • By looking at the rhetoric surrounding ‘The Interview’ and the response in North Korea, we can focus on questions such as: Is this an act of war? Does this cause conflict over censorship? The issue of cyber attacks towards Sony and questions over free speech regarding the restriction of the film contrasting President Obama’s statement to ABC News that his ‘recommendation would be that people go to the movies’. (http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/obama-sony-hack-proves-us-lot-protect-cyber/story?id=27676765)
  1. Is the portrayal of this conflict too focused on the film ‘The Interview’? Might there be the need to branch out and think of other portrayals and mediums?
  • As the film remains such a large part of the conflict between North Korea and the West due to the initial tension it built and the mainstream nature of the medium, having a focus on ‘The Interview’ is definitely a good starting point for discussion.
  • Although other portrayals may not have as much of an ethical or political impact as the ideological war caused by ‘The Interview’, it is important to consider and bring in other mediums to enhance the project such as linguistic politics surrounding Trump’s tweets as another form of communication that caused a similar fear through a different digital medium and the cyber attacks.
  • All these conflicts fought through digital means allow us to expand our focus on the digital weaponry used.
  1. Expand on the idea of presenting through a video essay.
  • By focusing on the digital conflict, a video essay becomes a good way to present through our own digital means.
  • As the project develops, the video will collate edited clips in collaboration with recorded audio and textual evidence.

 

Individual components to consider:

Paul:

  • Thinking of the main film ‘The Interview’ and picking apart the content of the film philosophically, Paul can analyse the way characters define the geopolitical situation within the film (acting as journalists outside of a journalistic medium), what sort of philosophical image is created and as a comedy film, how much does it match up to the way ordinary people/political leaders define the conflict.
  • Also, looking at the ethical implications of the film involves questioning how the filmmakers envision this conflict, the consequences of it and whether they should consider more ethical implications within their creative works (especially in relation to cyber attacks and threats to premiere and film release cancellations).
  • It is also worth thinking about this in relation to censorship and how far this digital culture is dangerous.

Gabe

  • After mentioning a Vice documentary on North Korea which we can collectively watch as a group, it will be interesting to look into the post-production edit of films and the philosophical issue of depicting fiction over reality.
  • Regarding the video essay, Gabe can use his filming and editing skills to help collate and direct this area of the presentation.

Ally:

  • From a historical perspective look at the overlap between documentaries and fiction to put together a depiction of events in relation to historical texts.
  • Questions arise surrounding history as a form of story-telling and what digital culture is doing for history to portray it in a new light.

Tash:

  • In regard to handling the ideas of Western influences, look into whether American nationalism and exceptionalism are exacerbated by these digital means.
  • Expanding the idea to include Trump’s tweets and potential other films, such as ‘Die Another Day’, which conceptualises Korea. This links back to the script changes within the early development of the ‘The Interview’, from a more allegorical, ideological landscape towards a closer report of reality to look at where the lines between fiction and reality blur.
  • The relation between China and North Korea also came up in discussion and studying films becomes an effective way of studying geopolitics.

 

Further discussion questions:

  • How far are the perspectives balanced? There is a lot more accessible information on the Western influence but not as much on North Korea, especially on their film industry.
  • Is it possible to look at the North and South Korea together? Are the two nations coming together?
  • How has the issue has been shifted through digital culture? As this online environment is overrode with informations, how do you distinguish the influence of the film on citizens from other influences within the data blizzard.
  • How have these digital forms allowed for the conflict to continue? How does this focus on the digital, political conflict in relation to films, hacking and tweets illuminates ideas about the Western influence and digital weaponry?

 

To do for the next meeting:

  • Flesh out the exact research question (surrounding the Western influence and the digital weaponry) and bring proposed question titles to the next meeting.
  • Comment on this post individual bibliographies and texts to edit as a group..
  • Re-watch the film ‘The Interview’ and take notes from your individual disciplinary perspective.
  • Gabe to link the Vice documentary for everyone to take a look at.

Group Meeting 2 (22nd Jan)

So, after some discussion we’ve decided that the conflict between South and North Korea will be a productive area for us all to pursue. Within this we’re are going to look at how films have portrayed, and directly affected, the conflict. A key case study then is likely to be the 2004 film The Interview (Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen, 2014) which was termed by North Korean officials as an “act of war”. To give us focus we will probably look at the conflict from around the release date of the film. Paul noted that we could see this as the start of a new period of heightened tensions not only domestically but also between North Korea and the West, particularly America.

This area is one where Tash can, in particularly, contribute since she’s studied Geopolitics through Films before. Alongside this I’ll aim to also provide a Film Studies based perspective, but by broadening our case study with some other keys films from Korea itself. We will look then at the conflict as it has been portrayed by America, but also domestically by the opposing sides. Ally and Paul are going to ground this in Historical and Philosophical perspectives respectively, with Ally probably looking at the contemporary History itself but also the methodological issues around using fiction films as historical texts. Considering this we might widen our scope to also consider a documentary film that deals with the conflict.Further theoretical grounding will also need to be found to flesh out a central assumption of our project which is that films have and can affect political events.

Lastly, the application of Paul’s research, I think it’s fair to say, is a little uncertain at the moment, though we think it possible. This is something we’ll have a clearer idea of after next weeks session when we decide on a bibliography. In order to do that below is a list of sources/materials that we think we might need to find. 

Suggested list of sources/materials for next week   

  • Films:
    • The Interview (Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen, 2014)
    • Suggestions:
      • A North Korean fiction film or documentary.
      • A South Korean fiction film or documentary.
      • Other films that have been thought to influence contemporary Geopolitics for context: Captain America, The Death of Stalin etc.
  • Texts:
    • Theory on how films influence politics
    • Secondary sources on The Interview
    • Paul’s readings from his Research Essay (the application of which we will discuss next week).
    • Theory on contemporary History/studying History through film.
    • Actual historical texts on the conflict
    • Political theory that will flesh out our understanding of the ideological debate between North and South Korea.

Potential Issues Briefly Raised by George

  • How is Ally going to contextualize what is very contemporary History?
  • How are we going to take account as our project continues the developments in the conflict that are inevitable but yet to happen?

One last thing to keep in mind was that we discussed the possibility of doing some sort of video essay since many of our sources will be visual. This will obviously take some planning.

Introduction: Paul Waiting

Major: Philosophy

 

Title: How religious argument can contribute to Ethical debates about conflict and war

 

In my essay I have attempted to present two opposing Ethical considerations of conflict. The first, a normative, legalistic model of conflict justification: David Rodin’s ‘Lesser Evil Justification.’ The second, a broader dialogue between a number of Christian Ethical Philosophers  in their argument against such conciliatory methods of justification and their support for scriptural sentiment and morality that cannot be legislated. I try to promote this second perspective as a way of counter-balancing modern Ethical judgements of war – those that accept a level of conflict as a given consequently making its continuation more likely, only more measured and legally framed.