Author: Adam Cathcart

The Joys and Sorrows of Peer Review

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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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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 […]

Reading North Korea’s Explosive Critique of ‘Opposite Number’

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Cultural Politics / North Korea / Soft Power

While some sections of North Korea’s Foreign Ministry and various Friendship associations were in middle of a major operation to woo foreign audiences via wrestling, Kim Jong-un was tending to the military. More to the point, his National Defence Commission was hammering out a very angry salvo threatening Britain. For background on the issue, see Channel 4’s own press release about the show (presumably read by someone on the NDC with Internet access, the trigger for […]

Ambassador Liu Makes a Visit to Rason, North Korea

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Borderlands / North Korea / North Korean border region / Sino-North Korean relations / Yanbian

The Chinese-North Korean relationship is hardly in full comradely bloom, but neither is it in a state of total breakdown and acrimony. Rason, the port/SEZ in the extreme northeast of the DPRK and a relatively short drive from China and its Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture, is a good case in point. One month ago, Liu Hongcai, the Chinese Ambassador in Pyongyang, made a trip around the Rason Special Economic Zone which went essentially unremarked upon. Xi […]

Keeping China in Check: How North Korea Manages its Relationship with a Superpower

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Sino-North Korean relations / Soft Power

The following essay was published at the China Policy Institute blog, University of Nottingham, on 28 July 2014 (link).  Around the world today, knowing how and when to deflect the will of the Chinese Communist Party seems to be something of a common theme. Beijing’s confidence is manifested at every turn: When one of its top leaders arrives in London, China seems to expect nothing less than audiences with the Queen, massive and obligatory profits, […]