Home to one of the most prominent North Korean collections in the Western Hemisphere, the Asian Division at the Library of Congress has rolled out the North Korean Serials Database, an online indexing tool that offers researchers enhanced access to periodicals and articles published as far back as the 1940s.
The database contains 34,000 indexed records for articles in 18 journals from North Korea that are now searchable to the public online at for first time.
The database covers publications from as early as 1948, the year North Korea was established, up to the present day. It provides an in-depth and authoritative guide on what resources are available on-site at the Library of Congress.
In the past, there were no indexing resources at the article level for North Korean serials anywhere in the world. Without specific bibliographic information on hand, researchers would have to browse numerous titles and issues in order to find specific articles they are looking for.
“Noticeable in the collection are serials published from the 1940s to the 1960s. Many of these titles are no longer available in other institutions, libraries or even North Korea, which makes this collection extremely rare and significant,” said Sonya Lee, reference specialist of the Korean collection at the Library of Congress.
“As the study of North Korea is gaining more popularity among scholars and graduate students, the unique and abundant resources at the Library of Congress will play a significant role in supporting scholarship in this field.”
Access to the indexes of these historical and cultural materials offers insight into the policy, economic, political, social, historic, military, legal, financial and governmental issues that affect contemporary foreign policy and strategies related to North Korea.
The materials from the Cold-War era can also provide a historical context to contemporary North Korean studies.
Researchers can search everything in the database or limit their query to article titles, subject, article keywords, publication date or publisher. Users can also browse the indexes by author (11,078 names in Korean and Romanized Korean form) and subject (135 subjects). Selected articles can be accessed on-site at the Library.
The serials and articles in this database only represent a small percentage of the items from North Korea that the Library of Congress holds, estimated at more than 10,000 items and 278 serial titles. Due to its size and rarity, the collection opens up the possibility to pursue the study of North Korea in unusual depth.
The Library started to collect Korean materials in the 1950s during the Korean War. Today, the Library has over 303,000 volumes of monographs and some 7,600 periodical titles in the Korean Collection. The current serial titles cover major magazines, government reports and academic journals from both North and South Korea. The collection is now one of the most comprehensive collections outside of East Asia.
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