Author: Adam Cathcart

Yuanization and Currency Politics on the DPRK’s Chinese Frontier

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Borderlands / North Korean border region / Sino-North Korean relations / Yanbian
DPRK Currency on Sale in Beijing. Image via China Daily.

North Korea’s long border with the People’s Republic of China is often seen as a permeable membrane for the movement of people and goods — in other words, as a conduit for smuggling. The movement of DVDs, USBs, and illicit drugs seems to get the most press (although North Korea is also involved in legal enterprises in China). Just as important than such illegal activity, if not moreso, to the ongoing functioning of the modified […]

Viewing the DPRK’s 66th Anniversary through a Chinese Lens

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Sino-North Korean relations
Tumen City, PRC

The realities of daily life in North Korea are, at best, elusive for the outsider to grasp. A lack of personal experiences often interfere. Those of us who have never known hunger or the terror of a certain knock on the door can read tales of depravation of food and basic personal rights only in shock. In today’s world beyond the DPRK, empathy (and its contemporary twin, the online or broadcast expression of outrage) is […]

Report of the DPRK Association for Human Rights Studies: Full Text

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North Korea

Since the North Korean state seems unable to convey proper URLs for an arguably significant document, I’ve rooted around the KCNA.kp website, done a bunch of cutting and pasting, and can present to you a full pdf of the Report of the DPRK Association for Human Rights Studies. It runs 167 pages; obviously citations of such a work are problematic, but at the very least it deserves a proper read by individuals concerned with human rights […]

The Joys and Sorrows of Peer Review

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Pensee

Is our peer review process in some way broken? Does it cause more grief than joy? My colleague Jon Sullivan  has done some writing on these kinds of issues as well, but I’d like to do a little more “thinking out loud” on this site with respect to the role that peer review plays in our lives as Sinologists & scholars. I find myself doing a great deal more reviewing than I did when my career […]

Some North Korea Commentary

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Cultural Politics / EU-East Asia relations / North Korea

My comments about North Korean foreign policy were carried in the last couple of days in The Diplomat and the Wall Street Journal‘s “Korea Real Time” blog. The interview at the former outlet is the most extensive, covering questions of continuity and change in North Korea; the latter is a more fun (yet arguably significant) piece that looks at North Korean views of the UK, specifically Scottish independence.

On the Inoki Visit to North Korea

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North Korea / North Korea-Japan relations / Public Diplomacy

Given the amount of public interest in the just-concluded visit of Japanese and American wrestlers to Pyongyang, led by lawmaker (and former wrestling star) Kanji Inoki, I thought I might share a few comments I prepared just as the visit was getting underway. JAPAN-DPRK I think this particular trip is much more about Japan-DPRK relations than some sop to warmer relations with the United States (via the wrestlers or the erstwhile rapper). The core delegation […]

Americans in Pyongyang: Detainees, Prisoners, Hostages, and Pawns

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Uncategorized

Yesterday, North Korea gave the US media momentary access to three American nationals currently detained in the DPRK. Finding the right terms to capture what function these three unfortunate men are serving at the moment is tricky at the moment. For convenience, let’s just start with nouns: “Detainee” is probably the most neutral designation, though for certain intrepid lawyers even this language has been tainted by post-9/11 practices and the erosion of habeus corpus at home. So we are hamstrung, and […]