Author: Adam Cathcart

‘Day of Songun’ and the Ongoing Succession Process in North Korea

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Kim Jong-un / North Korea / Propaganda
Undated photo of Kim Jong Il, courtesy

It is a coincidence, but an interesting one, that North Korean representatives concluded their negotiations with South Korea just in time for August 25, the ‘Day of Songun’ in the DPRK.  As faithful readers of the Sino-NK website will be aware, the ‘Day of Songun’ was devised in 2012 and promulgated in 2013; its overt intention was to commemorate the deceased Kim Jong-il’s early dedication to the cause of Songun, or ‘military-first politics’ dating back […]

Deng Xiaoping as Cultural Conservative

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deng-cowboy-hat_via Georgetown University

Today is Deng Xiaoping’s birthday. He was born in 1904 in Guang’an, Sichuan, a city now receiving various and not entirely uncontroversial forms of capital as a result. Consequently, I am reminded of my desire at some point in 2015–16 to reread big chunks of of the Deng Xiaoping biography which Harvard University Press wisely agreed to publish in 2013, written by Ezra Vogel. Amid the chorus of praise and critique for Ezra Vogel’s epic, there has […]

On the ‘Cairo Declaration’ Fiasco

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China / Chinese communist party / Chinese nationalism / Cultural Politics / Sino-Japanese Relations / World War II

While the tendency of the CCP to insert itself at the main junctures of Chinese history in the 20th century is anything but new, there has been an increasing alignment with the earlier Republic of China that has been quite pronounced, I would argue, since at least 2005. For the past ten years, scholars have interpreted this (and the inclusion of ROC troops in various war museums) mainly as a means of increasing cross-Straits rapprochement and […]

North Korean Forestry Purge Rumors, and the China Angle

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Kim Jong-un / North Korean border region / Sino-North Korean relations

John Power, writing at The Diplomat, asks how credible the latest rumour is from South Korea. Was Choe Yong-gun killed for disagreeing with the Supreme Leader on forestry policy? He (the journalist, not the apparatchik) appears to be on to something: The absolutely explosive rumour about a North Korean scientist who defected with a USB chock full of biological weapons research secrets from Pyongyang has not been confirmed by, well, anyone apparently. Here are my views about […]

Preparing for Doomsday, or October 10, in North Korea

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American Foreign Policy / Kim Jong-un / North Korea / US-North Korea relations
KJU 2015-07-28-01-01

North Korean state media has begun to really ramp up the name-calling at South Korea again. In response to South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s complaint that the ROK was not consulted about the recent North Korean time zone change, and, more significantly, for bringing back the loudspeakers in retaliation for the North Korean landmines, the DPRK has started using President Park’s photograph for Army machine gun target practice and calling her some rather nasty names […]

The Bombs Kept Falling in the Wake of Hiroshima

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Korean War / North Korea / War Crimes / World War II
USAF Japan, 1952 on mission to North Korea

In a Saturday essay for the Yorkshire Post, a very fine newspaper based in Leeds, I argue that there is more continuity than rupture in the historical legacy of the US atomic bombing of Hiroshima: On the 70th anniversary of the US bombing of Hiroshima, it bears recalling that it was the atomic method of devastation, and not the devastation itself, that shocked observers in 1945. The United States and the Allies had threatened Japan with “prompt […]

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 […]