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

Why the Sky is Not Falling for Koryo Airlines

    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 … Continue reading Why the Sky is Not Falling for Koryo Airlines

North Korea, Opposition Politics, and British Nuclear Deterrence

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 … Continue reading North Korea, Opposition Politics, and British Nuclear Deterrence

Pre-emptive strike plans in Korea

In response to a question from a reporter about Operational Plan 5015: In a certain sense, the North Koreans are the victims of their own inflated rhetoric and propaganda about their missile & nuclear programs, as well as their aggressive sea border defence. And, from the standpoint of Seoul, here have been an unending stream of threats and local provocations since Kim Jong-un arrived on … Continue reading Pre-emptive strike plans in Korea

Bypassing Beijing? North Korean Foreign Relations in April and May

Responding with appropriately prepared shock to the 15 April rocket launch, assessing the crescendo to the big Party Congress in early May in Pyongyang, adding to the noise over the defection of “the Ningbo 13,” and spreading rumours of a fifth nuclear test: all of these activities take time and effort. Get ready for North Korea's counterpropaganda offensive about the #Ningbo13. It starts w/ CNN … Continue reading Bypassing Beijing? North Korean Foreign Relations in April and May

Trains, Trade, and Corruption: Dandong Data Points

While analysts were surely right to parse the dynamics of the 3 September parade in Beijing, the work of assessing the state of Chinese-North Korean relations needs to go well beyond seating charts, personalities, and speculation about Kim Jong-un. As the main juncture for bilateral trade, the Chinese border city of Dandong should be near the top of any short list of generally verifiable factual indicators of Chinese-North … Continue reading Trains, Trade, and Corruption: Dandong Data Points

‘Day of Songun’ and the Ongoing Succession Process in North Korea

It is a coincidence, but an interesting one, that North Korean representatives concluded their negotiations with South Korea just in time for August 25, the ‘Day of Songun’ in the DPRK.  As faithful readers of the Sino-NK website will be aware, the ‘Day of Songun’ was devised in 2012 and promulgated in 2013; its overt intention was to commemorate the deceased Kim Jong-il’s early dedication … Continue reading ‘Day of Songun’ and the Ongoing Succession Process in North Korea