All posts tagged: Jang Song-taek

On Translation: North Korea in the Sinophone Gaze

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China / Chinese foreign policy / Huanqiu Shibao / North Korea / Sino-North Korean relations
Wangqing County Forestry Officials Discuss the Previous Year's Work, Yanbian Korean Autonomous Region - courtesy Wangqing County Gov.cn

Chinese writing about North Korea is peculiar. And perhaps it ought to be. Surely, well-informed insights and even genuinely insightful speculations ought to be welcomed to the table with alacrity, regardless of the nationality or linguistic tendencies of the thinker. Translators naturally serve a vital role in the enterprise of tying together Korea-oriented policy and analytical communities. Chinese writing about North Korea takes on an additional point of interest when it appears to indicate that the […]

Three Questions on Dandong and Chinese-North Korean Economic Relations

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Borderlands / North Korean border region / Sino-North Korean relations
Dandong-railroad-station

As the third China-North Korea Trade Fair continues, a few questions (modified from those posed by a stalwart reporter from a northern European news magazine roaming Liaoning province) and tentative answers seem appropriate. Q.: There is a great deal of new construction in Dandong and Chinese real estate companies are clearly trying to attract buyers — including possibly wealthy North Koreans.  I have been going to the ‘Xinchengqu’ (or New City district) every year since that […]

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 […]

Stephan Haggard’s Comment on Sinuiju SEZs

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

Stephan Haggard is frequently described as one of the top North Korea analysts in the United States; his breadth of interest, range of expertise, and command of massive amounts of data, along with his keen analytical eye all serve to confirm his standing in the research community.  I was therefore glad to see that he took interest in one of my recent papers on the subject of North Korean Special Economic Zones in and near […]

Abusive Convenience: Chinese-North Korean Relations

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North Korean border region / Sino-North Korean relations

In the lengthening aftermath of the Jang Song-taek execution, writers who are fond of metaphors for Chinese-North Korean relations can take heart. The bilateral relationship which had been “like lips and teeth” continues its transition into a new era, one of bleeding lips, or, as the historian Shen Zhihua puts it, a “marriage of convenience” experiencing serious discord. In order to properly review recent changes and action in the bilateral relationship between Beijing and Pyongyang, we […]

Pyongyang Machiavelli: All of Kim’s Men

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North Korea

[This essay was originally published at The Diplomat on April 17, 2013.] The man at the helm in North Korea today is an accident of history, surrounded by vestigial assertions of narcissistic genius that are de rigueur for North Korea’s depiction of its own leaders. More than any time since the young Kim Il-song was surrounded by Soviet generals in the 1940s, the North Korean leader today is dependent upon advisors. Advisors and officials below the […]

Lux Sinica: China’s Civilizing Influence in North Korea

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Cultural Politics / East Asian modernity / Huanqiu Shibao / North Korean border region / Sino-North Korean relations / Yanbian

It takes more than a few days, or perhaps a few weeks, to sift through all the reports, speculation, and rumors surrounding Kim Jong Il’s “new deal” with China.  At the end of the day, though, it seems that a single question aids in interpreting the phenomenon: To what extent has Kim Jong Il’s visit to China spurred the North Korean regime to embrace even the appearance of a reformist direction?  In other words, is […]