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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

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

North Korea as Cinematic Enemy: Donald Trump and ‘Olympus has Fallen’

I’m a historian of contemporary Northeast Asia, which means that narratives having to do with the Cold War or with peace and war in the region today interest me, even when they’re awful. In 2013, I made the ultimate sacrifice for an academic and went to see Olympus has Fallen, a mass-marketed Hollywood movie that, nominally, intersects with the subject matter I have dedicated myself to study. … Continue reading North Korea as Cinematic Enemy: Donald Trump and ‘Olympus has Fallen’

Joshua’s Map: Beijing’s Coverage of North Korean Defector Issues and Human Rights

In January/February 2015, the Huanqiu Shibao (the foreign affairs tabloid under Beijing People’s Daily, massive readership etc.) used one of Joshua Stanton’s maps to indicate the locations of North Korea’s largest gulags. Given the combination of Stanton’s personal hostility toward the Chinese Communist Party and Beijing’s own reluctance to throw North Korean human rights up to public introspection, I found this method rather surprising. Yet more … Continue reading Joshua’s Map: Beijing’s Coverage of North Korean Defector Issues and Human Rights

Hillary Clinton and the Taxing Friendship: China and North Korea

This essay, previously unpublished, was written in Seattle on 27 May 2010. Hillary Clinton arrived in Beijing last weekend to send an urgent message to China: put pressure on North Korea.  Tensions on the Korean Peninsula are peaking, provoked by the North Korean sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan and the consequent death of 46 soldiers allied to the United States.  Secretary Clinton, like … Continue reading Hillary Clinton and the Taxing Friendship: China and North Korea

The Dalai Lama in Europe

The following cohesive work ended up on the cutting-room floor just prior to the publication of my essay “Dalai Lama struggles to retain influence over troubled Tibet,” The Irish Times (Dublin), April 22, 2012, p. 14. The Dalai Lama arrives in Northern Ireland at a particularly important time for his own independence movement, which is based in Dharmsala in the north of India, where he has … Continue reading The Dalai Lama in Europe

Evaded States: Security and Control in the Sino-North Korean Border Region

Adam Cathcart, “Evaded States: Security and Control in the Sino-North Korean Border Region,” in Routledge Handbook of Asian Borderlands, Alexander Horstmann, Martin Saxer, Alessandro Rippa, eds., (Routledge: December 2017), forthcoming. The Chinese-Korean border county of Changbai comprises part of the easternmost frontier of the People’s Republic of China, and of Jilin province. Changbai means “ever-white,” a nod to Chanbaishan (“ever-white mountain”), the symbolically loaded and active volcanic peak … Continue reading Evaded States: Security and Control in the Sino-North Korean Border Region

Writings and Media Work: July 2017

For whatever reason, July has been a particularly active month in the various cockpits where I do my work — coffee shops, trains rocketing between Leeds and London, my university office, and British libraries — and consequently a few things have actually gotten finished. Some of the work that follows is purely opportunistic, but at least a portion of it reflects more deeply on my … Continue reading Writings and Media Work: July 2017