Biology (생물학 / Saengmurhak)

생물학 / Saengmurhak
Translation and backgrounder by Stephen Mercado

A quarterly journal of science and technology related to the study of living organisms, published by the Science and Encyclopedia Publishing House.

Cover of Biology (생물학 / Saengmurhak), no. 4 (2022).

Journal Title: The journal title has various renderings. Biology is the name in English. Its name in a simplified version of the standard McCune-Reischauer (M-R) transliteration system and the actual title in Korean are listed above. In the English version of the journal’s table of contents, the transliteration, rendered in all caps, is SAENGMULHAK, reflecting its transliteration in Pyongyang media as Saengmulhak. Below it appears between parentheses the English version: (Biology).

Author Information: Editorials and anecdotes of the Revolution (혁명 일화) are unsigned. The research papers show author names but lack other information common to science papers, such as academic or professional affiliation, academic titles, areas of research or author biography. The journal’s title suggests possible author affiliation with the State Academy of Sciences (SAS) Bioengineering Branch and/or related academic departments.

Subject Matter: The articles have to do with branches of biology and their applications, including biotechnology, cell biology, agriculture and animal husbandry.

References: Authors publishing in this journal cite a wide variety of domestic, Chinese and Western journal articles and monographs. Citations have included such domestic monographs as the Industrial Publishing House’s 미생물리용편람,공업출판사 [Handbook of Microbiology Use] (2003); Joseph Sambrook’s classic Molecular Cloning: A Laboratory Manual, in both the original English and its 1993 Chinese translation; such Chinese journals as 病毒学报 (Chinese Journal of Virology); and the Western journal Nature Biotechnology.

Sections: Each issue comprises a front cover; an unnumbered page with a framed quotation of one of the three generations of the Kim family; a table of contents (TOC) in Korean; the articles; a TOC in English; the publishing information; and the back cover. Regime messages/propaganda appear throughout the journal.

In recent years, the front cover shows a lead quotation over the journal title, under which is the name of the publisher, the issue number and year of issue and the corporate logo. The TOC in Korean starts with two or three items, each either an editorial or an anecdote of the Revolution. There follows some number of articles under the sections “Research Papers” (연구론문) and “Research Data” (연구자료). Some issues may include other sections; for example, the first issue of 2022 ends with the sections “Trends Data” (추세자료) and “Legal Commentary” (법무해설). Following the articles is an abbreviated TOC in English; there are no translations for the material following the section “Research Papers,” which is translated as “Original Papers.” Next, there is the publishing information. In recent years, the journal has included the International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) on the back cover at the lower right corner ’over a bar code.

A side-by-side comparison of a page of the Korean and English TOCs.

Publisher: The publisher’s name in English is the Science and Encyclopedia Publishing House. It is the Kwahak Paekkwa Sajon Chulpansa in simplified M-R and 과학백과사전출판사 in Korean. The publisher’s name appears in Korean on the journal’s cover and in English on the copyright line on the publishing information page. In addition, the front cover includes the publisher’s logo: a globe, with a representation of the atom imposed at the top and an abbreviated version of the publisher’s Korean name, 백과 (Paekkwa), at the bottom. Prior to issue 3, 2018, the publisher’s name printed on the front cover was 과학기술출판사 (Kwahak Kisul Chulpansa, the Science and Technology Publishing House). Confusingly, the front cover for the 2016 and 2017 issues, as well as the first two issues of 2018, show the Science and Technology Publishing House name together with the Paekkwa corporate logo.

The publisher publishes an issue each quarter, starting in January, for a total of four issues per year. According to the TOC and publishing information page, issue 3 (July), 2022 was cumulative issue number 238. The publishing information page also indicated that there was an editorial committee (no members named), the publisher was the Science and Encyclopedia Publishing House, the place of printing was the Moranbong Printing Plant, the date of printing was 11 July Juche 111 (2022), and the date of issue was 26 July Juche 111 (2022). The copyright line was © Science and Encyclopedia Publishing House 2022, DPR Korea. The publishing information has shown changes over time; for example, in Issue 1, 2002, the place of printing was the Pyongyang General Printing Plant. That issue of the journal showed no copyright line, ISSN or telephone number.