Author: Adam Cathcart

Occupying North Korea, Witnessing Massacre? Military Sources and the Question of US/UK Forces in Sinchon

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Korean War / North Korean border region / US-North Korea relations / War Crimes
Operational Maps Cover Page WO308, 57

The North Korean state claims that US troops arrived in Sinchon, Hwanghae province, on 17 October 1950 and promptly began butchering civilians, culminating in over 35,000 dead by the time of their retreat on 7 December. To my knowledge, no serious writing outside of North Korea has been made to determine if the body count is accurate. However, writers and scholars like Hwang Sok-yong and Kim Dong-choon, respectively, have engaged in efforts to describe the violence as […]

Dandong Discourse: China-DPRK Trade Fair, and Rumblings in Xinchengqu

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Borderlands / China / North Korea / North Korean border region
Dandong Trade Fair Guanggao, July 2015

Historians have surely seen better days between the Chinese Communist Party and the Kim-centric Workers’ Party of [North] Korea, but business continues apace today in the borderland. The main item seen in the past few weeks (i.e., something “new” that hasn’t yet made it yet into our wonderful Anglophone discourse) is the subject of today’s post. And the news is that the China-DPRK Trade Fair and Culture/Tourism Expo will indeed be held this coming October, and is entering […]

Will China Disintegrate? A British Assessment in 1947

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China / Chinese communist party / Chinese nationalism / EU-East Asia relations
Liberation of Shanghai, 1949

On either side of an energizing North Korea public event I did this past Friday in London, I make two treks out to the UK’s National Archives in Kew Gardens. My goal was explore Foreign Office papers about the U.S. occupation of Japan with a focus on war crimes tribunals and Chinese public opinion, and the Korean War with a focus on atrocities in South Hwanghae province. In the coming weeks, I hope to share a […]

From Hyesan to London: Hyeonseo Lee and the New North Korea Defector Memoir

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EU-East Asia relations / human rights / North Korea / North Korean border region / Yanbian
June 23 Abulouwang Hyeonseo Lee

Hyeonseo Lee has produced an excellent memoir, a text which, along with John Sweeney and Emma Graham-Harrison, I will be discussing with her at an event organized by The Guardian in London tomorrow night. Having worked my way through a review copy of the text this past week, I am happy to convey that the book goes beyond some of the now-stereotypical gestures of the suddenly expanding ‘North Korean defector genre’. Through the book, readers […]

Opera North and ‘The Flying Dutchman': A Review

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Art / Cultural Politics / German / Opera
Middle Wagner

While having ostensibly little to do with the East Asian themes that normally permeate this website, the following post is connected to my interest in German classical music and specifically opera. Regular readers more interested in Northeast Asia can trace Wagner’s relevance for studies of state-driven culture in the region more fully via my article ‘North Korean Hip-hop? Reflections on Musical Diplomacy and the DPRK‘ (Acta Koreana, 2009).  — Adam Cathcart, University of Leeds  Opera North […]

Regional Government and Political Integration in Southwest China, 1949-1954: A Review

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Borderlands / China / Chinese communist party / Tibet
1950年11月兄弟民族代表团在重庆解放碑参加集会

Dorothy J. Solinger: Regional Government and Political Integration in Southwest China, 1949-1954: A Case Study. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977. Review by Li Wankun, University of Leeds In traditional Chinese histories, the Southwest has often been considered as the most independent area in China, labeled as “the land of barbarians”(manhuang zhidi / 蛮荒之地). Accordingly, the concept and boundaries of “the Southwest” (xinan/ 西南) has fluctuated greatly over time. Anchoring the region is the province […]

Songs, Film, and Ideological Shifts in the DPRK

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Art / North Korea / Propaganda
Rice Plant Flower

Unlike songs which can put forth a new policy line in the space of a day or two, films take longer to congeal and embody ideological shifts. Chinese media covered this film “Rice Plant Flower” 《稻花》with a slight implication that there might be something about wealth accumulation in it, but it looks to be quite orthodox and in no way indicative of the Party’s reported relinquishing of limited control to selected farmers, let alone a […]