Author: Adam Cathcart

American Weimar: On Hitler, Obama, and BR Myers’ Diminution of Juche

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American Foreign Policy / German / North Korea
Hitler views Japanese art in Tokyo, 1939, via Bundesarchiv

This essay was written in Seattle in October 2011. Today I spent some time leafing through a solemn black notebook filled with sketches made primarily in the stacks at the University of Washington Suzzalo Library, reminding myself that not all good research is immediately digitized. Sometimes it takes a few months before a certain concept can swim down to the bottom of one’s consciousness and take root.  After all, in the intervening time between the initial […]

Journalist Expulsions and Beijing’s Counterterrorism Narrative

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Chinese communist party / Cultural Politics / EU-East Asia relations / French / Huanqiu Shibao / human rights / Propaganda / Soft Power / 新闻自由
Counterterrorism in China, Langfang, 2014

2015 was supposedly a triumphant year for the Chinese Communist Party, but the CCP seemed determined to end the year on a landslide of insecurity with respect to the foreign journalists within its borders. The expulsion of French journalist Ursela Gauthier was, of course, the primary case in point. As Gauthier noted, her case was not just about her single report and subsequent failure to engage in “serious introspection” and apologize to “the Chinese people” — it […]

Full Comment on the Latest American Detention in Pyongyang

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North Korea / North Korea foreign relations / Uncategorized / US-North Korea relations
Matthew Miller, via CNN

I was interviewed for a story in TIME magazine [full citation: Charlie Campbell, “The Detention of a U.S. Student in North Korea Underscores the Risks of Travelling There,” TIME Asia, 25 January 2016]. The following is my full comment: While the post-detention treatment of such individuals is always political and used for domestic and international propaganda effect by the regime, the arrests themselves are usually triggered by behavior that the North Korean authorities can classify […]

The Moranbong Band and Regime Consolidation in the DPRK

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Art / Cultural Politics / Music / My Publications / North Korea / North Korea foreign relations / People's Republic of China / Public Diplomacy / Sino-North Korean relations
Moranbong to China, Kim Ki-nam

Today, media in Beijing announced that the Moranbong Band, the all-female ensemble associated closely with Kim Jong-un, will be travelling to China for five days of performances. An academic paper I delivered last month about the Band is available in audio on SoundCloud; the accompanying Powerpoint is available at the following link: Moranbong Band presentation. Citation: Adam Cathcart, “The Moranbong Band and Regime Consolidation in the DPRK,” paper presented at VIII Seminario Internacional de Estudios Coreanos, Catholic University […]

Notes on Teaching the Nixon Visit to China

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American Foreign Policy / China / U.S.-China Relations

The Nixon visit was as clear a turning point as will ever arrive in diplomatic history, involving two of the world’s most important nations. The Nixon visit is a prism into talking about what had come before (the breaking off of relations in 1949), the crisis of the Cold War (inclusive of the Korean war), the Cultural Revolution, and what would follow – China’s “opening up.”  Additionally, students tend to be relatively more interested or […]

Blueprints and Rumors in Sinuiju and Dandong

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North Korean border region / Sino-North Korean relations
Ryocho-do - Sinuiju Bridge, via OhmyNews

Last week Christopher Green and I assessed the outlook for concerted Chinese-North Korean development in the critical corridor for trade between Dandong (PRC) and Sinuiju (DPRK). Using the October bilateral trade fair in Dandong as the test case and a number of Chinese-language press releases as sources, we argued that the trade fair should not be interpreted as evidence of a new receptivity by North Korea to Chinese investment. In a subsequent post piquantly entitled “We’ll […]

Stalinist Modes of Violent Power Consolidation

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civil war / Mao Zedong / People's Republic of China / political violence / Propaganda
Red Army Civil War

Last week the student discussions in my “Mao and Modern China” module at Leeds University centred on the old dichotomy between violent coercion and persuasive communication in the early years of the People’s Republic of China. We might also phrase the inquiry as a look into Mao’s role in the Campaign to Suppress Counter-revolutionaries. Accordingly, a handful of points from some recent (and some rather old) work on the Soviet Union may be of interest. […]