Mission Statement

The European Centre for North Korean Studies (ECNK) was founded to address challenges to the field of North Korean Studies. Located in the Department of East Asian Studies at the University of Vienna, the ECNK aims to support the institutionalization of North Korean studies by providing a platform for multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, and comparative research on North Korea.


The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, or North Korea) is one of the few state-socialist societies to have survived the Cold War. Located at one of the world’s geopolitical hotspots, North Korea is of great interest to academic institutions, governments, and NGOs.

The humanitarian tragedy of the famine in the 1990s and the emergence of the nuclear arms program in the 2000s have generated a strong demand in reliable, theoretically informed, and scientifically rigorous knowledge about the DPRK. Research output on the transformations in North Korea’s economy, politics, and society has grown in quantity and quality, but much still waits to be uncovered and understood.

The particular and comparatively interesting characteristics of the country have made it a fascinating – and sometimes puzzling – focus of research. Combined with strong interest by various stakeholders, the last two decades of research on North Korea have been defined by dynamic, but mostly spontaneous and uncoordinated, growth.

Today, the field of North Korean Studies is characterized by a significant number of individual researchers using increasingly sophisticated methods and working with a growing degree of specialization.

Interest in research collaboration, joint applications for research projects and funding, the pursuit of advanced degress, visiting fellowships and professorships, and other professional opportunities is growing among researchers with backgrounds in Political Science, Economics, Korean Studies, and other disciplines. The time has come to consolidate the advances made in the study of North Korea and to institutionalize a field that exists de facto but lacks formal organization and coordination.

About Vienna

Vienna is one of Europe’s most international cities and home to the United Nations, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and a great variety of related NGOs. We seek to leverage this unique locational advantage to acheive the stated objectives of the ECNK and combine it with the benefits of being based at one of the oldest institutions of higher education in Europe, the University of Vienna, founded in 1365.