Dr Markus Bell

Dr Markus Bell, Lecturer in Korean and Japanese Studies, School of East Asian Studies

Markus Bell joined the University of Sheffield’s School of East Asian Studies as a lecturer in autumn 2016. Markus was previously employed as a consultant anthropologist in the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and as a lecturer in anthropology and Asian Studies in the Australian National University. His research expertise is in the area of migration, kinship, memory, and transnational social networks, and he teaches courses on North Korean history and society and migration and Northeast Asia.

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Markus completed his Master’s degree at Seoul National University’s department of anthropology, after spending two years carrying out ethnographic fieldwork in the North Korean refugee community in Seoul. For his doctoral degree, completed through the Australian National University, he turned his attention east, to Japan. For a year Markus carried out ethnographic research into the everyday lives of some 300 migrants from North Korea living in Osaka and Tokyo.

During the period of his doctoral research Markus also worked as lead researcher on a Toyota Foundation funded project entitled: ‘The ideal and the reality of overseas North Korean defectors’. As part of this project, Markus contributed towards the creation of a non-governmental organisation in Australia and co-authored a textbook on migration and multiculturalism in contemporary Japan.

Markus’s current research project uses ethnographic research methods to examine contemporary and cold war migration between Japan and North Korea. Markus is particularly interested in the lives of individuals who have moved back and forth between Japan and North Korea and the significance of their memories of movement and resettlement in shaping a diasporic identity. These questions are contextualised within the larger social processes and historical forces that shaped the latter half of the twentieth century in Northeast Asia, and the epoch defining challenges that continue to cast a long shadow on relations between North Korea, South Korea, and Japan.

Markus has published in academic journals on the topic of North Korean migrants and publishes on diverse topics in public forums such as East Asia Forum, The Guardian, The Diplomat, and National Public Radio’s Salt. He also continues to volunteer for organisations working with North Koreans in exile. Markus is a co-director of Sheffield University’s inter-disciplinary project, Cultures of the Cold War (CCW). He is also currently collaborating with scholars at the University of Southern California, working on the topic of security, nuclear armament and human rights in North Korea.

Video cast on latest projects: 




Bell, Markus, Kim, Kyungmook, Menadue-Chun, Susan. Textbook for Peace Education: A North Korean Refugee in Japan-Hana’s Stories, Asia Press Publishing. January 2016.

Academic Journals:

Bell, Markus. (2016) “Making and Breaking Family: North Korea’s Zainichi Returnees and “the Gift”,” in Asian Anthropology, 15:3, 260-276,

Dalton, B. M., Jung, K., Willis, J. & Bell, M. (2015) “Framing and Dominant Metaphors in the Coverage of North Korea in the Australian Media,” in The Pacific Review.

Bell Markus. “The Ties that Bind Us: Transnational Networks of North Koreans on the Move,” in Resilience: International Policies, Practices and Discourses, Routledge, Taylor and Francis, Vol. 3, 14 May 2014.

Bell Markus & Fattig Geoffrey. “International Cooperation on the North Korean Refugee Crisis,” Forced Migration Review, Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford, (45) 2014, pp.59-61.

 Bell, Markus. “We’re So Happy to Have You Here (But We’d Rather You Hadn’t Come),” in Studia Universitatis Babes-Bolyai Philologia, 2013, Vol. 58, East Asian Studies, pp. 221-231.

Bell, Markus. “Manufacturing Kinship in a Nation Divided: An Ethnographic Study of North Korean Refugees in South Korea,” in The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology, Vol. 14 (3) 2013.



East Asia Forum: http://www.eastasiaforum.org/

NPR ‘Salt’: http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/04/08/473376519/from-india-to-north-korea-via-japan-currys-global-journey

 Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition: https://foodanthro.com/ 

The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/29/north-korea-tattoos-state-approved



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