Is Freedom the most expensive word? A journey to North Korea

Short thesis

Whereas contemporary states, societies and citizens are said to be interconnected and interdependent as never before in human history, North Korea appears as a sui generis void in international relations; a place beyond the realm of comprehension, being neither a part of our world nor of our era (…). The visuality of showing a dark North Korea serves as a discursive marker of difference. It helps to establish particular binary relations that distinguish, for instance between freedom / oppression, wealth / poverty, development / decline, and hope / despair.”

The performative discussion on Freedom will take the audience on a journey through North Korea, through an interactive, multi media dialogue after one of the speakers returns from a trip to the Asian country, challenging perceptions from the audience and questioning the actual meaning of freedom and how to challenge current perceptions on open and closed societies.


After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the dissolution of socialist project and the breakup of Yugoslavia, the only island still surviving in isolation, thus constantly arousing interest and contempt in the West as the only remnant of the Cold War, is North Korea. The image of North Korean people “suffering under totalitarian oppression” is one of the most spectacular and most fantastic ones.

The image of North Korea which reaches the West, the way its interiors, architecture, monuments, the government, repression and mass events are represented, absolutely equals the dystopias seen in Science Fiction movies, where all freedom is abolished. North Korea functions, thus, as a kind of unconscious western world, the dark spot on which all the gulags, torture, state supervision over individuals, etc. are projected. The projection of repression over the Other is ideal for masking one’s own repressive, non-democratic practices, such as the struggle against terrorism, the Greek crisis and the refugee crisis. Therefore, by speaking of North Korea, we also speak of America, of the EU, of Serbia.

The interactive talk will discuss contemporary problems using North Korea as frame and a highly creative format, as the conversation will show pictures, videos and vividly describe situations of a trip to Pyongyang, letting the audience interact and share questions about it, from the Internet and surveillance while you are visiting a dictatorship to questions on our current degrees of freedom in the west.