My apologies for the paucity of recent posts, friends. The author of this blog has been smashing through the Chinese borderlands with North Korea, pen in hand, laden with a camera, now borne aloft on new experiences.
In the aftermath of this journey, there are scores of things I would like to say about North Korea and Chinese views of that state. Along with a few of my extra photos, I will be offloading said views and first-hand accounts onto this blog in the coming weeks. Fortunately, none of it involves 1. my being kidnapped or 2. walking across the border into North Korea. (As for 1., I was momentarily trapped in a cab by some miscreants who claimed to be Uighur terrorists at about midnight one evening on the outskirts of Yanji; fortunately I muscled and talked my way out of this situation without relinquishing funds or dignity and was fine. And they were Han, not Uighurs. And, as for the second point, although I was very close most of the time to North Korea, for anyone who is not a returning refugee bringing food or cash back home, crossing into that country without permission is both irrational and pointlessly dangerous.)
In all, it was a lovely journey and I am looking forward with great anticipation to describing it further, along with further analysis of related geo-political issues, most of all that badly misunderstood and changing rubric of Sino- North Korean relations.
And some local descriptions of areas such as Ji’an, Linjiang, Changbai Automous Korean County, Yanji, and that Russianized outpost of Hunchun.
Today, following a 36-hour stint back in Beijing to clamber my way through a gang of Huadong Shifan University scholars and collect an armful of documents from the Foreign Ministry Archive, I am now tasting the fruits of internet liberty and the abundance of newspapers which are the domain of the Bundesrepublik, e.g., Deutschland, e.g., Germany. Yesterday Frankfurt, today Hamburg, tomorrow Berlin.
Finally, a bit of inspiration from Eliezer Gurarie, our favorite scientist in Helsinki/Seattle, whose offering prompted me to return to the blogging method, and to do so forthwith:
the trickle of data oozing through the cracks in the great firewall has gone calando, calando, calando to an deafening fermata, not unlike sightings of the baiji in the long water of the golden sands.
is it the perturbations among the arid sands of the sinic occident? or in the febrile jungle of the cathcartian heart? these are the questions that haunt us here, perched in the glass aeries of academe in helsingfors, looking eastward through warm winds, fanciful thunderrolls and heavy baltic mists.
in any case, the silence, we hope, will be broken.
And it has now been broken indeed, not with a Mahlerian thunderclap, but with a modest post, of modest means, tapped out in the modest corner of a Hamburg train station…