From Hyesan to London: Hyeonseo Lee and the New North Korea Defector Memoir

Hyeonseo Lee has produced an excellent memoir, a text which, along with John Sweeney and Emma Graham-Harrison, I will be discussing with her at an event organized by The Guardian in London tomorrow night. Having worked my way through a review copy of the text this past week, I am happy to convey that the book goes beyond some of the now-stereotypical gestures of the … Continue reading From Hyesan to London: Hyeonseo Lee and the New North Korea Defector Memoir

Borderline News from NK: Hyesan and Forest Fires

Hyesan is getting spruced up with some funds from the center. Meanwhile, the ever-vigilant Juchechosunmanse digs up a real find: Back in October North Korea watchers were perplexed by the fires in the DPRK’s northeast, namely in Ryanggang-do and Hamgyong-bukdo. The Daily NK has just reported [ed. in Chinese] that the forest fires were caused by people burning corn roots to get rid of insects and worms in … Continue reading Borderline News from NK: Hyesan and Forest Fires

Flower Girls: Prostitution in Hyesan, North Korea

A fall 2009 dispatch from the Daily NK in Chinese (and its English translation) indicated that a prostitution scandal was breaking in Hyesan, North Korea’s fourth largest city, a gray metropolis which sprawls along the banks of the shallow Yalu river across from the Chinese city of Changbai. [Google Map of Hyesan/Changbai available here.] I spent a few days in Changbai in July 2009 to … Continue reading Flower Girls: Prostitution in Hyesan, North Korea

Prostitution in Hyesan, North Korea

Snug up against the small but still bustling Chinese city of Changbai (Jilin province), Hyesan lies along the Yalu River, spreading from West to East as the closest urban gateway to sacred Mount Paektu.  According to the country’s Meteorological Administration, Hyesan is the coldest big city in the DPRK.  Cross border-trade is an important part of what goes on in the city, yet, Hyesan is, … Continue reading Prostitution in Hyesan, North Korea

Survey of Hyesan *North Korea* and Surrounding Border Areas

Earlier this summer, 2009, I spent several days each in various sections of the border between North Korea and China.   As the holder of a U.S. passport, I am not allowed into these regions of DPRK territory, but there are still significant phenomenon one can gauge from a trip to various parts of the border. Along with some brief observations, selected photos of North Korea … Continue reading Survey of Hyesan *North Korea* and Surrounding Border Areas

Evaded States: Security and Control in the Sino-North Korean Border Region

Adam Cathcart, “Evaded States: Security and Control in the Sino-North Korean Border Region,” in Routledge Handbook of Asian Borderlands, Alexander Horstmann, Martin Saxer, Alessandro Rippa, eds., (Routledge: December 2017), forthcoming. The Chinese-Korean border county of Changbai comprises part of the easternmost frontier of the People’s Republic of China, and of Jilin province. Changbai means “ever-white,” a nod to Chanbaishan (“ever-white mountain”), the symbolically loaded and active volcanic peak … Continue reading Evaded States: Security and Control in the Sino-North Korean Border Region

Recent Media Commentary on North Korea, and Chinese-North Korean Relations

With the apparent breakdown of Chinese-North Korean cultural diplomacy in December, North Korea’s testing of a purported hydrogen bomb in January, and a missile test and sanctions debate in February, the past three months have seen much media interest in Sino-North Korean relations, and of course North Korea generally. The following citation information, and, in some cases, full quotes in context of my interviews with media … Continue reading Recent Media Commentary on North Korea, and Chinese-North Korean Relations

Will China Disintegrate? A British Assessment in 1947

On either side of an energizing North Korea public event I did this past Friday in London, I make two treks out to the UK’s National Archives in Kew Gardens. My goal was explore Foreign Office papers about the U.S. occupation of Japan with a focus on war crimes tribunals and Chinese public opinion, and the Korean War with a focus on atrocities in South Hwanghae … Continue reading Will China Disintegrate? A British Assessment in 1947

Bubble at the Summit: Insecurities in Kim Jong-un Itineraries

Is Kim Jong-un staggeringly confident, or do his behaviours and travel itineraries betray personal neuroses and structural fears? The short answer is that it depends on the issue under discussion. Let’s take the economy for starters. Like a shrimp rediscovering its appetite after an awful oil spill, the North Korean economy appears to be improving, or so argue a number of indicators. Several smaller dams around the … Continue reading Bubble at the Summit: Insecurities in Kim Jong-un Itineraries

Toward understanding North Korean state fears of Dandong

On March 26, the Korean Central News Agency reported at length on a truly remarkable press conference. I say “remarkable” because it dealt with a topic that, if even half of the allegations stated were true, contained more than a few bombshells about a cluster of sensitive subjects. This characterization of sensitivity holds — not only because Dandong is the key conduit for Chinese-North Korean trade — … Continue reading Toward understanding North Korean state fears of Dandong