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Notes on the Sino-North Korean War of Words

Just because the US President has thrown up a number of smokescreens and signs of real mania of late does not mean writers must “resist” by reflexively taking an analytical approach toward US-North Korean relations that would have prevailed in the counterfactual event of his opponent having won the 2016 election. Imagine a world in which the arms control specialists and IR-types who have seized … Continue reading Notes on the Sino-North Korean War of Words

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Napalm and Invasion: North Korean War Memory and British Sources

In a recent post on his black-and-white personal blog, the North Korea scholar B.R. Myers criticizes a recent ream of journalistic think pieces about the function of Korean War memory in the DPRK. The essays, Myers writes, uncritically accept the argument that North Korean memories of US bombing from 1950-53 are a foremost justification today for the pursuit of a nuclear deterrent. To put it another way, Myers … Continue reading Napalm and Invasion: North Korean War Memory and British Sources

Resources on North Korean Music Diplomacy

  One strand of my ongoing academic work as a historian of Northeast Asia concerns music and cultural diplomacy in and by North Korea. My published online work on this topic generally does a few things. It: – tries to understand what the music scene means for broader cultural changes in Kim Jong-un’s Korea; – documents which ensembles seem to be in the favour of … Continue reading Resources on North Korean Music Diplomacy

Trump, Nixon, and Gambling on the Korean Peninsula

This essay fragment was written in December 2016, and has not previously been published. If you’re a gambler, the odds are good that Donald Trump will face a North Korea crisis at some point in his first year in office. In spite of being hit with a wall of UN sanctions, Treasury Department actions, US Executive Orders, and a major flood, North Korea managed to … Continue reading Trump, Nixon, and Gambling on the Korean Peninsula

Coupling and De-coupling the North Korean Missile Program from the Kim Jong-un Reformer Narrative

An essay earlier this year by Fodor Tertitsky, and a recent NewsHour interview with missile specialist Jeffrey Lewis, got me thinking about the nature of the relationship between reform and science/technological advancement in North Korea. Journalist Judy Woodruff concluded her interview with Lewis by almost incredulously asking, “Does North Korea have its own super smart scientists, or do they steal this technology from abroad?” This … Continue reading Coupling and De-coupling the North Korean Missile Program from the Kim Jong-un Reformer Narrative

Weaponizing the Past, or, How to Get a Book Contract in Trump’s America

It seems a bit too easy these days to begin any essay with a nod to how disturbed one is by the latest muddy geyser of Presidential discourse. As most sentient beings on the planet today could tell you, the president himself is a kind of endless mine of shocking (and therefore clickable) material when it comes to race in America, immigration, conceptions of borders … Continue reading Weaponizing the Past, or, How to Get a Book Contract in Trump’s America

Questioned Liberators: Guerrilla, Mobile, and Base Warfare in Communist Military Operations in Manchuria, 1945-1947

The years from 1945-1947 were a complex transitional period in the development of Chinese Communist military, political, and diplomatic strategy. While not yet facing the dilemmas of transforming wholesale an insurgent movement into a governing state, the Party was still beset on every side with new dilemmas, contingencies, and existential threats. It feels obvious to state but it bears repeating that during the early stages … Continue reading Questioned Liberators: Guerrilla, Mobile, and Base Warfare in Communist Military Operations in Manchuria, 1945-1947

Right of Reply: Kim Jong-un’s Rejoinder to American Threats at the UN General Assembly

I imagine that most people did not expect Kim Jong-un to make a direct statement to President Trump — I certainly didn’t. But the North Korean leader has done so, adding yet another layer of surprise to an evolving confrontation with the Trump administration, and showing that in spite of living within layer after layer of carefully cultivated legacy politics, he is capable of learning … Continue reading Right of Reply: Kim Jong-un’s Rejoinder to American Threats at the UN General Assembly