I have had a pleasant few days in Berlin corresponding with the editors at MIT Press and Harvard in getting my new article primed for publication.
Please be on the lookout for it: Adam Cathcart and Charles Kraus, “The Bonds of Brotherhood: New Evidence of Sino-North Korean Exchanges, 1950-1954,” Journal of Cold War Studies, Vol. 13, No. 3 (2011): 27-51. Preliminary copies can be obtained from the authors.
As I wrote in an intro to the article which I later discarded:
Twenty years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) appears today to be again firmly locked into a Sinocentric orbit of material aid and military/strategic cooperation. In addressing their Chinese counterparts and the expectant North Korean people, the sclerotic North Korean hierarchy today professes gratefulness to China, doing so with an effusiveness rarely seen since Chinese troops left the peninsula in 1958. Given the present conditions and the availability of new evidence about the period, reevaluation of North Korean’s historical foreign relations with an eye towards Beijing seems particularly salient.
Salient? Really? Hell yes!
And on to the conclusion, which, unlike the above paragraph, was spared by my editing knife:
Divergent pasts in East Asia frequently reveal their ability to interfere with a common future, and North Korea is no exception. The history of China’s influence on North Korea may provide food for thought today. Although policymakers seem to have grasped that the relationship with the PRC is North Korea’s most important bilateral relationship by far, the tensions and specfic issues inherent in the alliance are rarely understood. Understanding the historical underpinnings of the relationship and how the PRC has responded to past humanitarian and political crises in North Korea is highly in- structive. North Korea has largely purged the PRC from its own stylized his-tory, but political changes on the peninsula, particularly if they result in a more vigorous Chinese role—a role surely contemplated by DPRK diplomats on those long and instructive train rides from Sinuiju to Beijing—may eventually return North Korea to its Chinese past.
So let the presses batter and thump there in Boston, in old MIT, in the byways now filled with those present, recollections of the beloved and absent, and prenatural thoughts of the about-to-arrive. For a series of moments in its imperial hallways, blackened with the stench of ink, my work (and that of Kraus!), born of a welter of deafening keystrokes, shall be transfigured into corporeal form, issuing forth from that city of Boston like so many ancient manifestos of men with wigs who had yet to envision the American encounter with Kim Jong Il.