An Ambivalent Gaze at North Koreans in Guy Delisle’s Pyongyang


  • Joon Ho Hwang Ewha Womans University


This article discusses Guy Delisle’s Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea by focusing on otherness as a constructed quality to identify who “we” are as non-others. This travelogue visualizes Delisle’s two-month stay in Pyongyang as a supervisor of a French animated film outsourced to North Korea. The article examines how Delisle’s caricature (“the Delisle character”) searches for and affirms the otherness of North Koreans, thereby legitimizing the traditional view of them as others in the West. The North Koreans depicted in Pyongyang, however, are neither as isolated nor as homogenous as the West believes. As a result, Pyongyang engenders the discrepancy between the Delisle character’s gaze and actual situations which he observes but does not always perceive. In doing so, Pyongyang requests that readers not passively receive the Delisle character’s view but rather discern the significance of “our” flexible thinking that does not rely on otherness to understand different people.