Disgraced Korea scholar, formerly of Columbia, loses paper for plagiarism

Charles Armstrong

A former historian at Columbia University who resigned last year in the wake of a plagiarism scandal involving his award-winning book on North Korea has lost a 2005 paper for misusing his sources. 

In 2017, Charles Armstrong, once a leading figure in Korean scholarship, returned the 2014 John King Fairbank Prize from the American Historical Society after allegations emerged that he had plagiziared widely in his book, “Tyranny of the Weak: North Korea and the World, 1950–1992.” 

At the time, Armstrong admitted to having made “citation errors” in the work. However, Balazs Szalontai, an academic in Korea, insisted that the the errors were in fact plagiarism and that they were sweeping. 

Now, in what Szalotai told us was the earliest instance of Armstrong’s plagiarism that he has found, the journal Cold War History is retracting an article by Armstrong. According to the notice:   

We, the Editors and Publisher of Cold War History, have retracted the following article:

Charles K. Armstrong, ‘“Fraternal Socialism”: The International Reconstruction of North Korea, 1953-62’, Cold War History, 5, 2 (2005) 161-187.

The Editors of Cold War History, and Taylor & Francis as Publisher of Cold War History, originally accepted this article in good faith, following scholarly peer review. It has subsequently been brought to our attention, and further substantiated by post-publication review, that passages in this article were substantially reproduced and reworded without correct and proper attribution, and that the article includes fabrication and falsification of sources, in direct contravention with academic practice and publication ethics. The Editors of Cold War History strongly disapprove of this conduct.

Most of the passages in question were derived from the following work:

Balázs Szalontai, ‘The Failure of De-Stalinization in North Korea, 1953-1964: The DPRK in a Comparative Perspective’ (PhD dissertation: Central European University, 2003), subsequently published as Kim Il Sung in the Khrushchev Era: Soviet-DPRK Relations and the Roots of North Korean Despotism, 1953-1964 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2005).

In accordance with our policy on publishing ethics and integrity, and the COPE guidelines on retractions, the retracted article will remain online, but it will be digitally watermarked on each page as ‘RETRACTED’.

The paper has been cited 18 times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science.

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