New Koguryo Research in Pyongyang, or, How to Revive a Historical Dispute on China’s National Day

It doesn’t take much skill at reading tea-leaves in Chinese or English to recognize that Kim Jong-un’s letter of congratulations to Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, and Zhang Dejiang on the PRC’s National Day fell far short of what, from a Chinese perspective, it should have been. Kim’s three brief sentences were newsworthy because he was ostensibly bed-ridden, but also because they indicated a lack of … Continue reading New Koguryo Research in Pyongyang, or, How to Revive a Historical Dispute on China’s National Day

Obedient, Intransigent North Korea in the Chinese Media

Thanks to the ever-productive Joshua Stanton at the very useful but hopelessly Anglophone (and somewhat impervious) command post for North Korean counter-revolution known as One Free Korea, I got motivated to do some more analysis of Chinese sources touching upon the recent flare-up in the sea to the west (and north!) of the DMZ in Korea. As I see it, Chinese media strategy as regards … Continue reading Obedient, Intransigent North Korea in the Chinese Media

Welcome to the North Korean Labryinth

No sooner has Jimmy Carter arrived in Pyongyang to negotiate for a low-level American hostage than Kim Jong Il is reported to be in China’s northeastern Jilin province. This trip, if it turns out to be true, would be logical only in the sense that the putative successor Kim Jong Eun, by traveling into Manchuria, could be then said to better understand the mystical connection … Continue reading Welcome to the North Korean Labryinth

Sunday Links: Korea

1. Joshua Stanton’s analysis of Sino-North Korean relations on One Free Korea is stuffed with things worth thinking about.  Of course, when he equates the Global Times with the Nazi organ Voelkische Beobachter, I, speaking as someone who actually reads the Global Times (usually in its Chinese version, not through partial characterizations of articles by Reuters or AFP or South Korean papers) as well as … Continue reading Sunday Links: Korea

Im Dienst des Diktators: Translation [2] — The Korean War Years

Having now read a bit more than half of the new memoir/expose by former North Korean arms dealer Kim Jong Ryul, I wanted to share a few more thoughts about the book and translate another portion of the text. Although the book is getting attention for its detailed description of DPRK purchases in Vienna and the German-speaking world, not so many Anglophone commentators seem to … Continue reading Im Dienst des Diktators: Translation [2] — The Korean War Years

North Korea Freezes Tourism from China

Just when you thought the Sino-North Korean relationship was back to its apparently solid traditional footing — after all, were not the kisses fresh on the cheeks of the generals with big hats? — North Korea announces that it is freezing tourist visits from China as of December 10. Reassurances were given that PRC citizens currently in the DPRK would have no problems and could … Continue reading North Korea Freezes Tourism from China

Tropes of Victimization in North Korean Textbooks of the Late 1950s

Just a few scans from a single Korean source I picked up last year in Yanbian, published in Pyongyang in 1959, the year after the Chinese People’s Volunteers left North Korea and filed back into the maelstrom of Great Leap Forward-afflicted China through Dandong, Ji’an, and Tumen. Relevant manuscripts: Adam Cathcart and Charles Kraus, “The Bonds of Brotherhood: New Evidence of Sino-North Korean Exchanges, 1950-1954,” … Continue reading Tropes of Victimization in North Korean Textbooks of the Late 1950s

North Korea Updates

For residents of Sinuiju, the DPRK border city which handles an estimated 70-80% of all Sino-North Korean trade, yesterday’s missile test coincided with the launching of a domestically-based cell phone service.  As Good Friends reported last month, October 10 was the slated blast-off day for North Korea’s new joint venture with Egypt in telecommunications.  (South Korea gets Nokia, North Korea gets Orascomm.)  While the cell … Continue reading North Korea Updates

Correcting the Record on News from the Border Zone

Justification Regular sources of information from the Chinese-North Korean border zone are difficult to come by. The Daily NK is one of the more abundant, and apparently reliable sources, that Western readers have at our disposal. Unfortunately, to my knowledge, few researchers have noted crucial discrepancies between reports filed in Chinese and the English language-version which most people read in the West. Just for reminders: … Continue reading Correcting the Record on News from the Border Zone

Understanding the CurrentTV / North Korea Fiasco

[Note: In light of the speed of the news and the interest shown in this issue by Danwei readers,  I have followed this post with another, more considered, analysis of the Tumen river fiasco as it continues to impact evolving Sino-North Korean relations.  — Adam Cathcart] Amid the struggle to understand activity on the remote North Korean-Chinese border, few sources are more constant and seemingly … Continue reading Understanding the CurrentTV / North Korea Fiasco