Journalist Expulsions and Beijing’s Counterterrorism Narrative

2015 was supposedly a triumphant year for the Chinese Communist Party, but the CCP seemed determined to end the year on a landslide of insecurity with respect to the foreign journalists within its borders. The expulsion of French journalist Ursela Gauthier was, of course, the primary case in point. As Gauthier noted, her case was not just about her single report and subsequent failure to engage in … Continue reading Journalist Expulsions and Beijing’s Counterterrorism Narrative

Powerless Harmonies: Cultural Diplomacy in French-North Korean Relations

In March 2012, an orchestra of North Korean musicians went to Paris to perform, an event which gave us a very good case study of looking at the DPRK’s soft power efforts. It also provided an example of cultural diplomacy between Europe and a country in East Asia dedicated, for the most part, to resisting exchanges that may not adhere to its ideological values. In … Continue reading Powerless Harmonies: Cultural Diplomacy in French-North Korean Relations

Moranbong: Following French Intellectuals to North Korea in 1958

As I’ve completed a long article on the subject of Sino-French relations in the mid-1950s with a focus on the 1955 journey of Simone de Beauvoir to the People’s Republic of China, the following press release, sent by Benjamin Joinau, interests me quite a bit:  Re: Antoine Coppola’s “Cine-voyage en Coree du Nord” L’Atelier des Cahiers [link] introduces its latest publication about the fascinating trip of French … Continue reading Moranbong: Following French Intellectuals to North Korea in 1958

Blockages and Breakthroughts: Cultural Diplomacy and North Korea

[A cross-post of an essay which I posted on SinoNK.com. — AC] Yesterday, Corée_Actualités launched a short missive which functioned as a kind of bouleversement of the normal: a 90-member delegation of the DPRK’s Unhasu Orchestra (consisting of 70 players) will be performing at the Salle Pleyel in Paris this coming March 21.  The French Radio Symphony Orchestra (l’Orchestre de Radio France) will be playing alongside Unhasu, under the direction … Continue reading Blockages and Breakthroughts: Cultural Diplomacy and North Korea

Consecrated: New French Embassy in Beijing

The next time you encounter someone caterwauling about the rapid expansion of Chinese cultural institutions abroad, Chinese companies taking over contracts in Algeria, or complaining about the size of the American embassy in Baghdad, I suggest you counter with the following statement: “Sure, but have you seen the French Embassy in Beijing?  Don’t you think the Chinese are terrified by the cultural footprint that it … Continue reading Consecrated: New French Embassy in Beijing

Plateau Rouge: On the Cultural Revolution in Tibet (2)

A few weeks ago, I finally received my copy of the new French translation of Tibetan writer Woeser’s text of oral histories on the Cultural Revolution in Tibet. This past Saturday night in Seattle, in between a Schumann Violin Concerto unearthed in unearthly manner and a celestially brutal Bruckner Symphony, I had a chance to read a single testimony and wanted to share a few … Continue reading Plateau Rouge: On the Cultural Revolution in Tibet (2)

Inside North Korea: French Edition

I found this French film, apparently shot in spring 2010, to be better than most treatments of the North Korean tourist experience.  Among other things, a young North Korean “rapper” is encountered in an amusement park (at 12:31), North Korean rallies are accompanied by music by Philip Glass, and the piece benefits from the use of some selected extracts from North Korean film archives. In … Continue reading Inside North Korea: French Edition