Sino-North Korean Links for July 26, 2010

comments 4
North Korean border region / Sino-North Korean relations

Korean War Monument, Missoula, Montana -- photograph by Adam Cathcart

Note: I’m breaking slightly from my previously-announced fortnight blogging hiatus to try something new: a sort of collection of links on North Korea and Sino-North Korean relations which attempts to combine the advantages of Twitter while removing the fragmentary nature of that platform. (You can subscribe to my Twitter feed here.)  I certainly intend to continue with the production of monumental blocks of prose that you may have come to expect here, but feedback on format and utility of the following entry would be welcome.

North Korean Bluster

National Defense Commission is in the driver’s seat in Pyongyang with another explicit nuclear threat

Pyongyang alleges US is openly talking about “preemptive nuclear strike” on North Korea

The Cheonan effect: war preparations centralize power in the Nat’l Defense Commission//NK much directly threatens nuclear retaliation for US-ROK drill in this Minju Chosun op-ed

China’s Huanqiu Shibao puts out a long article headlining that US-South Korea joint exercises are “the largest since 1976″ and that “statements by both U.S. and North Korea are growing increasingly fierce” [美韩34年来最大规模军演今开幕 美朝互递狠话]

Closing thought: What would the summer of 2010 have looked like in the DPRK absent the Cheonan incident and resultant war ramp-up?  Conversations on currency failures, grain shortages, unproven new leadership, Kim Jong Il’s precarious health, need for market reforms, disbelief that 2012 will see “strong and prosperous nation,” nostalgia for Kim Il Sung.  To use a completely unjustified metaphor, it’s like asking what Japanese domestic/military politics would have been like in 1934 absent the Manchurian Incident.  Once you let the torpedo out of the tube (or drain the troops into Liaoning province), there’s no going back.

Circuses and Opera for Kim Jong Il

Disquieting June 24 KCNA headline combo: “NK Determined to Maintain Nuclear Deterrent; Kim Jong Il Enjoys Circus”

Pyongyang Circus performs for Chairman Kim; he holds forth on _juggling technology_.

Someone else has got to be running the store: Kim Jong Il still obsessed with Tchaikovsky

KNCA piece on the Pyongyang Circus feels definitive: Kim Jong Il is not exercising any kind of day-to-day control over the Workers’ Party.

Borderlands Update

Report that China is leasing & renovating port space in Chongjin, DPRK

N. Hamgyong strategy: “Recruit Women as Officials instead of Incompetent Men”

North Koreans get more succession propaganda via discussion of Kim Il Sung’s “newly discovered” remarks on tree carvings

Flooding is serious in North Pyong’an province

Hyesan homicide by hungry NK man linked to resentment of nouveau riche (English) (中文)

Report from scene of Chinese oil spill in Dalian asserts that North Korea is concerned about environmental impacts

Last performance of North Korean opera in Dalian

Huanqiu Shibao/Global Times Features

A huge and multi-featured webpage rolling out the red carpet for the North Korean port of Rajin

Coverage, but not necessarily support, for North Korea’s announcement of possible “nuclear holy war [核圣战]” against the U.S.

A photo gallery of images taken by tourists in North Korea

Parting thought: War clouds over North Korea might dampen enthusiasm for some international travelers, but Huanqiu Shibao isn’t at all shy about promoting travel to the DPRK.

"See North Korea's Fine Changes in Rajin; Excitement of 5000 Chinese Businessmen There to Move Forward"

The Author

Lecturer of Chinese history at University of Leeds, and Editor-in-Chief of


  1. adamcathcart says

    Thanks, JR, and I appreciate your earlier link as well on the whole “blogs are dead” discussion. (I also recognized upon reflection on another comment response I left that “nexte Mal” is better than “nexte Zeit,” but what the hell.) The anti-Japanese aspects of the North Korean propaganda machine are always pretty well-oiled, but it’s an element of the domestic equation in the DPRK (and a hidden kind of congruity that the North has with the Chinese public) which often is left out of our “Western media perspective.”

    US compromises by moving naval exercises to East Sea = answer is to rev up anxiety over Japan’s ambitions in the East Sea!

    Le Figaro had a short piece about Japanese naval observers watching the US/ROK exercises which I had not seen anywhere else:

    BTW, I’m dropping the full text of your link into this comment, as these texts have a way occasionally of inconveniently disappearing!





    Herzlichen Dank!

  2. justrecently says

    I’ve seen some coverage of the Japanese observers in the Chinese-language press from China, and on the BBC’s Chinese website, but not elsewhere. Btw, a number of authors with the VoA, China Daily, and suggest that later in this series of maneuvers, the Yellow Sea will become a venue – Zhai Dequan (翟德泉), deputy secretary general of the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, among them.

  3. I have found plenty of fascinating info on this page, I have made some notes on some of the more interesting stuff I hadn’t seen before. I think there’s also a whole bunch more about this on Wikipedia, and and at this geekier info site so check that out too. This is one of my guilty pleasures and I’m really interested in learning similar things so if any of you might be bothered enough to add comments on this issue that would be too kind.

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