Author: Adam Cathcart

Bubble at the Summit: Insecurities in Kim Jong-un Itineraries

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Borderlands / factionalism in North Korea / Kim Jong-un / Kim Jong-un health / Manchuria / North Korea / North Korean border region / Op-Ed / Sino-North Korean relations / Yanbian
KJU Wonsan

Is Kim Jong-un staggeringly confident, or do his behaviours and travel itineraries betray personal neuroses and structural fears? The short answer is that it depends on the issue under discussion. Let’s take the economy for starters. Like a shrimp rediscovering its appetite after an awful oil spill, the North Korean economy appears to be improving, or so argue a number of indicators. Several smaller dams around the Huichon behemoth are coming online, meaning there is more power […]

Notes on Kim Ki-nam, and on North Korean Cultural Production

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Music / North Korea
Rodong Sinmun Singers 2015-04-18-04-02

The Chosun Ilbo carries the news that Kim Ki-nam, head of North Korea’s Ministry of Propaganda and one of the few remaining members of the famous funeral cortege of December 2011, has finally stepped down from his post.  I previously analyzed the possibility of Kim Ki-nam’s retirement, and his place in the North Korean system, in this June 2014 article on musical propaganda. Earlier in spring 2013, I described Kim Ki-nam’s unique role in the North Korean system […]

Koreans and Military Training in Japan, 1947-48

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Korean War / US occupation of Japan
Shigemitsu

Yesterday I spent a couple of hours in a single box at the US National Archives — otherwise known as RG331 (Allied Operational and Occupation HQ), SCAP Government Section, Administrative Division, Purge Miscellaneous File, 1945-51, box 2054, “Administration to Directives [Screened].” This is a box of “screened” purge candidates. It is hugely disorganized, with no real folders, everything mixed in together, but amid the probably 2000 pages there are many single documents of great interest. Without […]

Ideology and Anti-Factionalism: A Survey of North Korean Workers’ Party Publishing Output in 1958

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history and memory / North Korea
Kim-Il-song-as-Al-Capone

In May 2010, the US Central Intelligence Agency released a file which it had had in its files for many decades: Korean Books (in Korean), No. 1, Catalogue of Books by Korean Worker’s Party Publishing House.  While in most other contexts such a text would be open-source, finding the book (along with a hell of a lot of extremely interesting materials) during today’s foray into the CREST database at the US National Archives in College Park, […]

Pu Yi as Witness

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history and memory / Manchuria / War Crimes / World War II
Pu Yi in captivity in Fushun, 1956; photo by Dave Lancashire

In his 1946 testimony at the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (the Tokyo Trials), Pu Yi, the former Emperor of the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo, proved to be an exceptionally difficult witness. The following extract from the IMFTE Proceedings (p. 4,085) seems to capture the obdurate and unproductive nature of his eight-day appearance at Tokyo. Q. On what date was Manchukuo established as a country? A. Please don’t ask me any more about the […]

Chinese Journalists and the U.S. Occupation of Japan

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China / Chinese nationalism / history and memory / Public Diplomacy / Sino-Japanese Relations / US occupation of Japan / US-Japan relations / World War II
Wang Yunsheng in Office

At the conclusion of eight years of Japanese occupation of nearly every major city in the Republic of China, Chinese journalists were prepared not just to celebrate victory but to join the Allied nations in occupying Japan. The desire to undo the fundamental reorientation of the Sino-Japanese hierarchy of 1894-95  and restore China to regional preeminence was nearly universal, as was the consensus of seeing China finally turn the corner on economic dysfunction and to a assume a […]