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North Korean Collection: Asian Collections at the Library of Congress

Search Strategies

This page provides tips and search strategies for discovering North Korean materials from the Korean collection within the vast collections accessible via the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Contact reference staff through Ask a Librarian for help with using the online catalog or finding specific materials. If the material is digitized, there will be a link to the primary source online.

Searching for materials in Asian languages often requires the romanization of book titles, author names, and other keywords according to the ALA-Library of Congress Romanization tables. While users may search the online catalog using the Korean alphabet, Han'gul, please note that some catalog records contain only romanized Korean. Searching with romanization allows one to retrieve catalog records that include Han'gul as well as older records that do not.

For guidelines on romanization standards, please consult the Library’s Korean romanization table: Korean Romanization and Word Division (PDF, 748 KB)

How to Search for North Korean Materials

Try keyword searches if you do not have specific title or author information for the resources you are looking for. In the online catalog, you can enter Korean keywords in romanization or the Hangul alphabet. When searching, put a space after each word, including prepositional words.

  • Example of Korean keyword in romanization: Inmin ŭl wihan han kil esŏ
  • Example of Korean keyword in Hangul: 인민 을 위한 한 길 에서

Using the Advanced Search can make your results more efficient and specific. Select Boolean operators, such as AND to search for multiple keywords. You can also select where the keywords appear, such as title, subject heading, publication information, or anywhere in a catalog record. For example, you can combine a keyword on a particular subject (e.g., chemistry) with "Pyongyang" as Publication Information. This will search for specifically North Korean materials.

Screenshot showing an advanced search

You can refine your search by adding limits, including year published/created, material type, place of publication, and language of the material.

  • Place of Publication: This filters your search results to items published in a particular place. Publication place options are presented in a drop-down menu of country names. For North Korean materials, it is important to select “Korea (North).”
  • Type of material: This option limits your search results to one or more material types. For instance, periodicals can be filtered by selecting “Periodical or Newspaper.”
Screenshot showing limits

You can find LC Subjects in any catalog record. Clicking on a subject heading will take you to more resources about a particular subject. For example, the catalog record shown in the image below has “Kim Il-sŏng chŏnjip—Indexes” as its subject heading. Another tip for searching is to open a catalog record and click on “Browse by shelf order.” This will show you other items next to it on the shelf—many of which will be about the same or similar topics. This section is highlighted in the image below.

Screenshot showing search result

To browse catalog records of all serials from North Korea, use Advanced Search and enter “Pyongyang” as Publication Info and “Periodical or Newspaper” as Type of Material, as shown in the image below. These are all North Korean serials at the Library of Congress.

Screenshot showing an advanced search