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

Adrian Buzo will be publishing a large Routledge Handbook on North Korea  (which I believe is slated to be published in 2021) and asked me to contribute a chapter. I asked my PhD student Yujin Lim to co-author this piece and fortunately she agreed, since she has been working in North Korean materials available in Seoul and recently published an impressive article on the geometry … Continue reading “The Enemies Made this Possible”: Sino-North Korean Relations after 1948

More to Life than Kim Jong-un: Reflections on Robert Collins’ Report on the Organization and Guidance Department

  Today the NK News website published a 1600-word essay I wrote in response to Robert Collins’ extensive new report on the Organization and Guidance Department of the Korean Workers’ Party. A short series of extracts follows: More than ever since January 2017, ‘North Korea watchers’ have been wrestling with a dilemma typical for analysing autocracies: Does one take a personalist interpretation of the DPRK’s diplomacy and … Continue reading More to Life than Kim Jong-un: Reflections on Robert Collins’ Report on the Organization and Guidance Department

On the Opening of the Ji’an-Manp’o Trade Port

As a small Chinese city on the Yalu River, Ji’an (集安) is an often-overlooked juncture for Chinese-North Korean movement of supplies and people. It was the main conduit for the Chinese troops into the DPRK during the initial stages of Mao’s intervention in the Korean War. It is the site of ancient tombs of the Koguryo kingdom, which makes it an important site for ancient … Continue reading On the Opening of the Ji’an-Manp’o Trade Port

Women and the Workplace in Japan, Abe and the Emperor, Japan and Brexit

I feel this story describes more my mother’s generation than my own — then again Japan never fails to shock on the gender front. Guess my own marriage is hardly typical, what with my Japanese husband in charge of the home and both of us happy with no kids https://t.co/NfAg7LKHk1 — Hiroko Tabuchi (@HirokoTabuchi) February 3, 2019 'The problem is with those who didn't give … Continue reading Women and the Workplace in Japan, Abe and the Emperor, Japan and Brexit

Memory and Reproduction: A Study of 1980s Chinese Ethnic Korean Revolutionary Narratives—Yun Il-san’s The Roaring Mudan River

The Sungkyun Journal of East Asian Studies recently published a new and very exciting paper by two Chinese scholars focusing on an area of great interest to me, and hopefully to readers of this blog: namely, the Chinese Korean region of Yanbian. (Fortunately there is no paywall, nor is any login or registration needed; the full pdf is here). This paper presents a valuable window into a … Continue reading Memory and Reproduction: A Study of 1980s Chinese Ethnic Korean Revolutionary Narratives—Yun Il-san’s The Roaring Mudan River

Robert Jay Lifton, Revolutionary Immortality, and the Chinese Cultural Revolution

In his seminal 1961 study of survivors of detention and interrogation in the new People’s Republic of China, Robert Jay Lifton explains why this topic gripped him so thoroughly:  …I arrived in Hong Kong in late January, 1954. Just a few months before, I had taken part in the psychiatric evaluation of repatriated American prisoners of war during the exchange operations in Korea known as Big Switch … Continue reading Robert Jay Lifton, Revolutionary Immortality, and the Chinese Cultural Revolution

Mistranslating Mao in Chengdu, 1958

If you’re thinking much these days about Mao Zedong’s role in triggering massive famine in China during the Great Leap Forward (1958-61), you aren’t alone. In recent years, big histories in English have been published of the Great Leap by the historian Frank Dikotter and journalist Yang Jisheng, respectively, new sources compiled and translated by Zhou Xun, and excellent comparative monographs and edited volumes produced … Continue reading Mistranslating Mao in Chengdu, 1958

New Fragments from Mao in the Cultural Revolution

In December 2013, scholars of the history of the PRC were given a shot in the arm via the publication of Mao Zedong Nianpu, 1949-1976, consisting of six volumes of previously obscure materials from the central party archives press (党文献出版社) in Beijing with respect to Mao Zedong. Links to some of my previous translation efforts in this text, mostly focusing on the early 1950s, are included at … Continue reading New Fragments from Mao in the Cultural Revolution

George H.W. Bush in Mao’s China

  With the death of George H.W. Bush, it is an opportune time to look back at his time as the top U.S. diplomat in Beijing in the immediate aftermath of Nixon’s 1972 groundbreaking visit to China. Although the period of Bush’s presidency (1989-1993) has yet to hit the Foreign Relations of the United States volumes, a large amount of open-source material has been made available … Continue reading George H.W. Bush in Mao’s China

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