Author: Adam Cathcart

Why the Sky is Not Falling for Koryo Airlines

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Kim Jong-un / Sino-North Korean relations
Kim Jong-un at Air Show on 9 May 2014, image via KCTV, Adam Cathcart

    A recent UPI headline found a form of success with a big claim: “North Korea’s Air Koryo suspended operations again.” Good heavens! I thought. This could be a major blow to Kim Jong-un, who has taken a real personal interest in both the North Korean fleet and the operations of Air Koryo, no doubt with an augmented revenue stream in mind! Having then read the piece, my bothersome inner editor insisted on a […]

Questioning North Korea’s Narrative of the London Diplomat Defection

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EU-East Asia relations / human rights
Thae Yong-ho in London 2015

It took about three days for the North Korean state to put together the opening salvo to its official public response to the stunning defection of Thae Yong-ho from its Embassy in London, but it has now arrived. As I predicted in a Bloomberg interview on 17 August, the response has been quite nasty. There are several other aspects to the response that bear noting, and which give us more information than we have previously, […]

Wartime History and Beijing’s Response to the New Defence Minister in Tokyo

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China / Chinese communist party / Chinese foreign policy / Chinese nationalism / history and memory / People's Republic of China / Propaganda / Sino-Japanese Relations / Uncategorized / US Department of State / US-Japan relations / War Crimes / World War II

In the wake of the Upper House elections in Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has completed a reshuffling of his cabinet. As described by Japan hand Michael Cucek, it was not a particularly inspiring set of choices made by the newly-consolidated Prime Minister: Taro Aso (the right-wing former PM perhaps best recalled for his off-the-cuff endorsement of Hitler’s constitutional revision style) remains at the helm in Finance, for one. The biggest waves internationally are being […]

Grain Politics and Sichuan in the 1950s

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China / Chinese communist party / history and memory / People's Republic of China / Sichuan
Chongqing in Republic of China Atlas

There are few lines of historical investigation more fraught in China than those concerned with food, security, and famine in Sichuan province in the 1950s. But where to start the investigation? Which reference points obtain? For Frank Dikotter, the reference point is Mao, and the beginning point seems to be 1953. In his book Mao’s Great Famine, the historian locates the origins of the famine at the top levels of the CCP, Mao’s resentment of […]

Writing the Early Postwar: White and Jacoby’s _Thunder Out of China_

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China / Chinese nationalism / civil war / Sichuan / Sino-Japanese Relations
White and Jacoby 1946 book cover

Foreign correspondents are crucial conduits for insights into contemporary East Asia. As I’ve learned from my conversations with various bureau chiefs, stringers, and greybeards in the region, there are few people willing to share insights as journalists, as it is their job to be, and to stay, plugged in. For the contemporary historian, reading the accounts of journalists in the region in the 1940s an 1950s is particularly salutary. They are layered and numerous — […]

North Korea, Opposition Politics, and British Nuclear Deterrence

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Kim Jong-un / Korean War / North Korea / North Korea foreign relations / Op-Ed / War Crimes

I wrote the following piece for The Guardian, the stalwart newspaper for whose North Korea Network I have done a handful of essays and events over the past couple of years. After much back and forth and revision, it was ultimately left on the cutting-room floor in London. Such are the risks taken by academics moonlighting as journalists! Fortunately it was picked up by the editors at Sino-NK, who are currently working hard in Seoul, […]

Reading and Writing Chinese-North Korean Cold War History

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Chinese foreign policy / Chinese nationalism / Korean War / Mao Zedong / North Korea / People's Republic of China / Propaganda / Sino-North Korean relations

Tian Wuxiong, a Ph.D. candidate in modern history at Peking University, has produced a nicely nuanced view of the withdrawal of the Chinese People’s Volunteers from the North. Tian has a good grasp of the Chinese historiography and produced a paper, entitled “Different Intentions with One Voice: The Making of Chinese Troops’ Withdrawal Package from the DPRK in 1958 / 同声异汽:中国1958年从朝鲜全部退军方案的形成” published by Harvard Working Paper series.  For my full read-out of the Tian Wuxiong article and […]