L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs

L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs



Benjamin Young

Benjamin Young

Assistant Professor

Scherer Hall Room 211 Email: youngb9@vcu.edu


  • North Korean history and politics
  • U.S-East Asia relations
  • Global History of Socialism and Communism


Dr. Young received the 2023 Wilder School Award for Teaching Excellence. He teaches a variety of national security-related courses, such as terrorism, legal and constitutional issues in homeland security and emergency preparedness, the senior seminar, and cybersecurity policy. He recently developed a special topics course on state sponsors of terror, which emphasizes a study of North Korea and China.

Dr. Young has served as a guest lecturer and academic presenter for a wide variety of distinguished national and international institutions, such as the University of British Columbia, Michigan State University, The Ohio State University, and Middlebury Korean Language School. He regularly comments on North Korean affairs and U.S-Asia relations for podcasts and national and international news outlets, most notably 99 Percent Invisible, the New York Times, LA Times, and BBC News. He is currently working on a research project examining the importance of mountains in anti-colonial guerilla struggles and Leninist party-states. He is also working on a paper investigating the relationship between Revolutionary Iran and African American radicals. 


B.S (2012), History, SUNY Brockport
M.A (2013), History, SUNY Brockport
PhD (2018), History, George Washington University

Research interests

North Korea's Foreign Relations, Maoism, History of Marxism-Leninism, Cold War international history, and the relationship between political culture and hacking


Dr. Benjamin R. Young is the author of the book, Guns, Guerillas, and the Great Leader: North Korea and the Third World (Stanford University Press, 2021). Previously, he was an Assistant Professor in Cyber Leadership & Intelligence at Dakota State University and a postdoctoral fellow in Strategy and Policy at the U.S Naval War College. He has published a number of scholarly articles on East Asian history and politics in peer-reviewed journals, such as the International History Review, the International Journal of Korean Unification Studies, and Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society. He was a 2018-2019 CSIS/USC NextGen US-Korea Scholar and has also written journalistic pieces for The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Diplomat, Nikkei Asia, The National Interest, Reuters, and NKNews.org. Dr. Young has lived in South Korea during a Fulbright fellowship and has traveled extensively in North Korea, China, and Russia. 

Selected publications


Guns, Guerillas, and the Great Leader: North Korea and the Third World. (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, April 2021). 

 Journal Articles

“Mountain Warriors: The Importance of Mountains in Mao’s People’s War Strategy,” American Journal of Chinese Studies, Vol. 29, No. 2 (2022), 131-149.
“Dangerous Ideas and Leftist Deviation: Anarchism and North Korean Political Culture,” Journal for the Study of Radicalism, Vol. 15, No. 2 (2021), 49-72.
“The Role of Cyber in Kim Jong Un’s Byungjin Line: North Korea’s Political Culture, Hackers, and Maritime Tactics,” Maritime Security, Vol. 3, No. 1 (2021), 45-72.  

 “When the Lights Went Out: Electricity in North Korea and Dependency on Moscow, “International Journal of Korean Unification Studies  Vol. 29, No. 1 (2020), 107-134.

 “Before ‘Fire and Fury’: The Role of Anger and Fear in U.S-North Korea Relations, 1968-1994,” The Korean Journal of Defense Analysis Vol. 32, No. 2 (2020), 207-229.

  “Cultural Diplomacy with North Korean Characteristics: Pyongyang’s Exportation of the Mass Games, 1972-1996,” International History Review, Vol. 42, No. 3 (2020) 543-555.

   “Thucydides in Pyongyang: Fear, Honor, and Interests in the 1968 Pueblo Crisis,” Journal of Territorial and Maritime Studies, Vol. 7, No. 1 (2020), 68-85. 

 “Imagining Revolutionary Feminism: Communist Asia and the Women of the Black Panther Party,” Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society, Vol. 21, No. 1 (2019), 1-17. 

 “An Emotional Relationship: Trust, Admiration, and Fear in North Korea-Zimbabwe Relations, 1976-1988,” S/N Korean Humanities, Vol. 4, No. 2 (2019), 129-149.

 “Not There for the Nutmeg: North Korean Advisors in Grenada and Pyongyang’s Internationalism, 1979-1983,” Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review No. 27 (2018).

  “Hammer, Sickle, and the Shamrock: North Korea’s Relations with the Workers’ Party of Ireland,” Journal of Northeast Asian History, Vol. 12, No. 2, 105-130 (2015).

  “The Struggle for Legitimacy: North Korean-African Relations, 1965-1992,” British Association for Korean Studies Papers (now known as the European Journal of Korean Studies) Issue 16 (2015), 97-116.

 “Juche in the USA: The Black Panther Party’s Relations with North Korea, 1969-1971,” The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, Vol. 13, Issue 12, No. 2 (2015).