“The Enemies Made this Possible”: Sino-North Korean Relations after 1948

“’The Enemies Made This Possible’: Sino-North Korean relations since 1948” with Yujin Lim, in Adrian Buzo, ed., Routledge Handbook of Contemporary North Korea (London: Routledge, 2020), pp. 131-140.

Abstract: This chapter is anchored in the relationship between Kim Il Sung and Mao Zedong, documenting China’s support – initially heavy and later ebbing – for unification under Kimist leadership. Mao’s government and Kim’s remained tied to one another for security even after Chinese troops departed from North Korea in 1958 and the Cultural Revolution opened up its seemingly unlimited rage and chaos in 1966. As China became a more status quo power, North Korea continued to pursue strategies of peaceful reunification toward Seoul mixed in with rhetorical assaults on the US-South Korean alliance. Questions of leadership and personality are examined throughout the chapter, along with themes of Korean unification and China’s outlook on North Korean comrades. The chapter concludes by showing how Kim Jong-un has drawn from certain aspects of his grandfather’s legacy in order to conduct a foreign policy toward China which has alternated between cold and warm.

Citation: Adam Cathcart and Yujin Lim, “‘The Enemies Made this Possible’: Sino-North Korean Relations after 1948,” in Adrian Buzo, ed., Routledge Handbook of Contemporary North Korea (London: Routledge, 2020), pp. 131-140.

The quote in the chapter title is from Zhou Enlai, whose meetings alongside Kang Sheng with Albianian comrades in spring 1970 — soon after Zhou’s trip to Pyongyang — are available here.

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