On Think Tanks, or, What Trump Didn’t Get in Helsinki

The Trump administration has brought with it a dark winter of discontent to US think tanks. Institutions stocked with the analytical rosters of former Clinton and Obama appointees with North Korea-related expertise are hardly alone; even experts at the Heritage Foundation find themselves unable to embrace the steps being taken by this unorthodox Republican administration. The discontent within the think tanks appears to be matched by the rise of skepticism … Continue reading On Think Tanks, or, What Trump Didn’t Get in Helsinki

North Koreans Watching Fox

This post operates on sanity-preserving ground rules: No referring to: think-pieces, think-tank analyses, journalistic hot takes, outraged or absurd Tweets (other than those thumbed out by POTUS), Chuck Schumer’s courageous stand against a commemorative coin, or speculation about what this consistently incoherent White House intends to do. Do not engage with the orgy of clickbait flowing out of the inexplicable leak from the Pompeo/Andrew Kim … Continue reading North Koreans Watching Fox

On the Perils of Journalistic Moonlighting for Academics

The inter-Korean summit which occurred on 27 April coincided with a rare trench of open time and full energy for me, so I was able to write three pieces in response. None of these is full of blistering insights per se, but perhaps by discussing their production in aggregate I can convey something useful about the way the world of journalistic commentary works for academics, … Continue reading On the Perils of Journalistic Moonlighting for Academics

Thunderclouds Over the Honeymoon: Xi, Kim, and the Trump Summit

Amid the welter of diplomatic moves that have occurred in and around the Korean peninsula in 2018, the two meetings in quick succession between the North Korean leader and China’s eternally-consolidating leader, Xi Jinping, have been one of the more curious elements. After a six-year hiatus from meeting foreign leaders at all, Kim’s mode of turning so suddenly back to China was indeed extraordinary. The … Continue reading Thunderclouds Over the Honeymoon: Xi, Kim, and the Trump Summit

Walls as Multivalent Icons in Early People’s Republican Cartoons, 1946-1951

The rise and ultimate victory of the Chinese Communist Party in the Chinese civil war, and Mao’s galvanizing intervention into the Korean War, was accompanied and supported by a wave of cultural propaganda that depicted the CCP as the strongest defenders and representatives of the Chinese nation. This paper looks at an array of cartoons from the late 1940s and early 50s to argue that … Continue reading Walls as Multivalent Icons in Early People’s Republican Cartoons, 1946-1951

Notes on North Korean Musical Exchanges and Internal Narratives

A lot of people seem to be interested in North Korean cultural diplomacy these days, so the (often peer-reviewed/probably badly flawed/usually enormously fun) work which I have been doing on this issue for the last decade has allowed me to say a few not completely ignorant things about it for a wider public. [Updated 6 April 2018:] This morning I spoke about it with Canada’s … Continue reading Notes on North Korean Musical Exchanges and Internal Narratives

Media Blackout in Beijing: Reading the Empty Spaces during the Kim Jong-un Visit

Among the dozens of subplots feeding into and out of the curious-but-necessary welcome by Xi Jinping of Kim Jong-un this week is the question of information access and what it means or doesn’t mean about the robustness of the overall Chinese-North Korean relationship. I put together a few preliminary thoughts on this for an outlet based in Seoul, and link and some shorter excerpts of … Continue reading Media Blackout in Beijing: Reading the Empty Spaces during the Kim Jong-un Visit