Robert Winstanley-Chesters

Teaching and Research Fellow in Korean Studies


Robert joined the University of  Edinburgh as a Teaching and Research Fellow in 2022. Prior to this Robert worked as a Lecturer at York St John University, Bath Spa University, University of Leeds, Birkbeck, University of London, as a Research Fellow at Australian National University (under Professor Tessa Morris-Suzuki's ARC Laureate Fellowship project 'Informal Life Politics in the Remaking of Northeast Asia') and as a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of Cambridge (under Professor Heonik Kwon's AKS Lab project 'Beyond the Korean War'). Robert is the author of "Environment, Politics and Ideology in North Korea" (Lexington, 2014), "Vibrant Matter(s): Fish, Fishing and Community in North Korea and Her Neighbours" (Springer, 2020) and "New Goddess on Mt Paektu:  Myth and Transformation in North Korean Landscape" (Black Halo/Amazon KDP, 2020). Robert was also co-editor of "Change and Continuity in North Korean Politics" (Routledge, 2016). Robert is currently researching North Korea necro-mobilities and other difficult or unwelcome bodies and materials in Korea/East Asian historical geography and legacies of geographic knowledge production and theory during the Japanese Imperial and Korean colonial era.




BD, Divinity, University of Edinburgh (1994-1998)

MA, Human Geography (Activism and Social Change), University of Leeds (2007-2008)

PhD, Human Geography, University of Leeds (Thesis title: 'Ideology and the Production of Landscape in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea') (2008-2013)

Responsibilities & affiliations

Managing Editor of the European Journal of Korean Studies (EJKS)

Undergraduate teaching

Seoul, Shanghai, Edinburgh: Peoples, Culture and Spaces (with Youngmi Kim)

Postgraduate teaching

Unwritten Korea: Understanding Korean Society through Contemporary Arts and Films (with Youngmi Kim)

Korean Politics and International Relations (with Youngmi Kim)

Global Cities: Seoul and Comparative Perspectives

Political Economy of Korean Development

Current research interests

Robert's current research interests include: Human Geographies of North and South Korea Environmental Management in North Korea Non-human subjects of North Korean politics and ideology Animal Geographies of North Korea Necro-mobilities of North Korean bodies, materials and other organic objects Gentrification and displacement in urban South Korea Fishing Geographies of the Korean Peninsula Geography as knowledge production in the Japanese Empire and colonial Korea Soil and soil health in the politics of North Korea


  • 2014 Environment, Politics and Ideology in North Korea: Landscape as Political Project – Lexington Press (Rowman and Littlefield) (paperback edition in 2016)

  • 2020 Fishing, Conservation and Community in North Korea and its Neighbours: Vibrant Matter(s) - Springer
  • 2020 New Goddess on Mt Paektu: Gender, Myth and Transformation in North Korean Landscape – Black Halo and Amazon KDP

Edited Volume

  • 2016 Change and Continuity in North Korean Politics – edited volume with Dr Adam Cathcart and Christopher Green – Contributions from Dr Robert Winstanley-Chesters, Dr Adam Cathcart, Dr Christopher Richardson, Steven Denney, Darcie Draudt and Christopher Green - Routledge  (paperback edition in  2018)

Book Chapters


  • 2013 “Politics and the Development North of the 38th Parallel: From Imposition and Transformation to Conservation and Mitigation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” – Korea: Politics, Economy and Society 2013 - Brill
  • 2014 “Examining Emergent Environmental Strategies in the Era of Kim Jong Un” - Wiener Beiträge zur Koreaforschung, 5 - Praesens
  • 2021 “Vibrant matter(s), Fish and Fishing Histories in North Korea” in Management of Land, Water, and Energy: Perspectives on Environmental History in East Asia, edited by Professor Micah Muscolino (University of Oxford) and Ts’ui-jung Liuin (Academia Sinica, Taipei) - Routledge
  • 2021 “Rematerializing the Political Past: The Annual Schoolchildren’s March and North Korean Invented Traditions” in East Asian Invented Traditions, edited by Dr Andrew Jackson (Monash University) - University of Hawaii Press
  • 2022 "North Korea all at Sea: Aspiration, Subterfuge and Engagement in a Global Commons" in Internationalising Korea: Essays on Korean Language, Culture and Diasporas in an Age of Globalization, edited by Andrew Jackson – Palgrave Macmillan 


  • 2023 "Fragmented Geographies: Tada Fumio, Keijo Imperial University, and Colonial Korea" (with Adam Cathcart), Journal of Historical Geography (under review)
  • 2022 "Encountering the Silk Road in Mengjiang with Tada Fumio: Korean/Japanese Colonial Fieldwork and Research Connections and Collaborations," Acta Via Serica, 7 (1): 131-148
  • 2022 "Fish for the Elite: Seafood Restaurants and North Korean Watery Environmental Histories," Korean Journal of the History of Science, 44: 437-459
  • 2021 "Making Ghosts in the Pacific: Empires of Fishing, Colonization and Ecological Collapse," Asia Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, 19.12.1
  • 2021 "Authorship, Co-Production, Plagiarism: Issues of Origin and Provenance in the Korean Studies Community,” European Journal of Korean Studies, 20 (1): 346-374.
  • 2020 “Ghost Ships as Spectral Geography: an Introduction to North Korean Necro Mobilities,” International Journal of Diaspora and Cultural Criticism, 10, (2): 149-183.
  • 2019 “Forests in Pyongyang’s Web of Life: Trees, History and Politics in North Korea,” Acta Asiatica Varsoviensis, 32: 5-23.
  • 2019 “Ruins, Memory and Vibrant Matter: Imagining Future North Korean Rural Terrains,” European Journal of Korean Studies, 19 (1): 87-101.
  • 2019 “Spatialising Moments of Korean Unification: Arboreal and Topographic Charisma on April 27, 2018,” S/N Korean Humanities, 5 (2): 33-58
  • 2019 “Fish, Subterfuge and Security in North Korean and Soviet Institutional Interactions in the 1970s,” Acta Asiatica Varsoviensis, 31: 7-25
  • 2018 “German Studies of Koreans in Manchuria: Gustav Fochler-Hauke and the Influence of Karl Haushofer’s National Socialist Geopolitics,” with Adam Cathcart, European Journal of Korean Studies, 18 (1): 131-141.
  • 2017 “Rare Earth Minerals, Technology Metals and Extractive Landscapes in North Koreas’ Web of Political Life,” Journal of Extractive Industries and Society. 5 (1): 44-51.
  • 2017 “Documenting Cultural Landscapes of Mineral Extraction and Developmental Transformation in North Korea,” Asian Cultural Studies (ICU), 43
  • 2016 “Discovering Mineralogical Terrains and Landscapes of North Korean and Soviet Development, 1945-1950 in the Captured Documents Collection,” North Korean Review, 12 (2): 9-25.
  • 2016 “Charisma in a Watery Frame: North Korean Narrative Topographies and the Tumen River,” Asian Perspective, 40: 393-414.
  • 2016 “From Dialectic of Nature to the Asian Mode: A Pre-History of North Korean Environmental Approach,” Capitalism Nature Socialism, 27 (3): 46-63.
  • 2016 “New Goddesses at Paektu Mountain: Gendering Korean Landscape,” S/N Humanities, 2(1): 151-179
  • 2015 “The Socialist Modern at Rest and Play: Spaces of Leisure in North Korea,” Academic Quarter (Aalborg University), 11: 196-211
  • 2015 “North Korean Pomiculture 1958-1967, Pragmatism and Revolution,” Papers of the British Association of Korean Studies 16: 117-128.
  • 2015 “Patriotism Begins with a Love of Courtyard”: Rescaling Charismatic Landscapes in North Korea", Tiempo Devorado/Consumed Time (Autonomous University of Barcelona), 2 (2): 116-138
  • 2012 “Juche Orientated Garden Cities of the Future – Unlikely Utopian Developmental and Environmental Outcomes in the DPRK of 2032” Papers of the British Association of Korean Studies (15)

Book Reviews

  • 2023 "Asia-Pacific Fishing Livelihoods," by Michael Fabinyi and Kate Barclay, Pacific Affairs (forthcoming)
  • 2023 "Seeds of Control: Japan’s Empire of Forestry in Colonial Korea," by David Fedman, Harvard Journal of East Asian Studies (forthcoming)
  • 2023 "Guns, Guerrillas and the Great Leader: North Korea and the Third World," by Benjamin Young, Journal of Military History (forthcoming)
  • 2022 "Spirit Power: Politics and Religion in Korea’s American Century," by Heonik Kwon and Jun Hwan Park, European Journal of Korean Studies, 22 (1)
  • 2022 "Laughing North Koreans: The Culture of Comedy Films," by Immanuel Kim, European Journal of Korean Studies, 20 (2)
  • 2020 "Postcolonial Grief: The Afterlives of the Pacific Wars in the Americas," by Jinah Kim, Emotion Space and Society, 37
  • 2020 "Transgression in Korea: Beyond Resistance and Control," by Juhn Young Ahn, Korea Journal, 60 (1)
  • 2020  "The Shaman’s Wage: Trading in Ritual on Cheju Island," by Kyoim Yun, European Journal of Korean Studies, 19 (2)
  • 2019 "Bringing Whales Ashore: Oceans and the Environment of Early Modern Japan, by Jakobina Arch, IIAS Newsletter
  • 2019 "A Place to Live: A New Translation of Yi Chung-Hwan’s T’aengniji, The Korean Classic for Choosing Settlements," translated Inshil Choe Yoon, European Journal of Korean Studies, 19 (1)
  • 2018 "Empire and Environment in the Making of Manchuria," edited by Norman Smith, European Journal of Korean Studies, 18 (1)
  • 2018 "Making Borders in Modern Asia: The Tumen River Demarcation, 1881–1919," by Nianshen Song, European Journal of Korean Studies, 18 (1)
  • 2018 "DMZ Crossing: Performing Emotional Citizenship Along the Korean Border," by Suk-young Kim, European Journal of Korean Studies, 17 (2)
  • 2017 "North Korea: Markets and Military Rule," by Hazel Smith, European Journal of Korean Studies, 17 (1)
  • 2017 "De-bordering Korea: Tangible and Intangible Legacies of the Sunshine Policy," edited by Valérie Gelézeau, Koen de Ceuster, and Alain Delissen, European Journal of Korean Studies, 17 (1)
  • 2017 "Anarchist Modernity: Cooperatism and Japanese-Russian Intellectual Relations in Modern Japan," by Sho Konishi, European Journal of Korean Studies, 17 (1)
  • 2017 "The Practice of Freedom: Anarchism, Geography, and the Spirit of Revolt," Edited by Richard J. White, Simon Springer and Marcelo lopes de Souza, Emotion, Space and Society (Summer 2017)
  • 2017 "Red Love in Korea: Rethinking Communism, Feminism, Sexuality” in Red Love Across the Pacific: Political and Sexual Revolutions of the Twentieth Century, Eds: Ruth Barraclough, Heather Bowen-Struyk and Paula Rabinowitz (Palgrave Macmillan) and “Red Love and Betrayal in the Making of North Korea: Comrade Hŏ Jŏng-suk,” Ruth Barraclough, History Workshop Journal Issue 77, S/N Korean Humanities (Summer 2017)
  • 2016 "North Korea: Markets and Military Rule," by Hazel Smith (Cambridge University Press), Papers of the British Association of Korean Studies  16
  • 2015 "Re-imagining North Korea in International Politics: Problems and Alternatives," by Shine Choi (Routledge), S/N Korean Humanities (Autumn 2015)
  • 2015 "Marching Through Suffering: Loss and Survival in North Korea," by Sandra Fahy (Columbia University Press), Pacific Affairs (Winter 2015)