Ms Ria Roy (2017)
I was born of an Indian father and a Korean mother in Seoul, Korea. I grew up in Korea speaking three languages -- Korean, English and Bengali -- and frequently visiting India. This experience exposed me to strikingly different cultures and styles of thought, but it also meant that, although I was a native Korean speaker imbued with Korean culture, I was able to look at my society as an outsider, making me sensitive to the role that representations of national identity play in politics. I then pursued my undergraduate studies at the School of International Liberal Studies, Waseda University, Japan. During this time, I not only learned Japanese, but also developed an academic interest in studying representations, North Korea, and East Asian history. I then studied for my MA at Harvard University (Regional Studies – East Asia), where I examined the interaction of aesthetics, politics, language and literature in North Korea, focusing on the funeral of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il. In my PhD at the University of Cambridge, I am eager to delve deeper into the question of the manufacture of charisma in North Korea and to trace its transformation from a state committed to Marxist-Leninist views to one that propagates a semi-mystical view of leadership. As a Gates Cambridge Scholar, I hope to put my work on political representations in North Korea and Asia into a broader context and so to help provide knowledge that could be used for the benefit of people everywhere.