North Korean Forestry Purge Rumors, and the China Angle

John Power, writing at The Diplomat, asks how credible the latest rumour is from South Korea. Was Choe Yong-gun killed for disagreeing with the Supreme Leader on forestry policy? He (the journalist, not the apparatchik) appears to be on to something: The absolutely explosive rumour about a North Korean scientist who defected with a USB chock full of biological weapons research secrets from Pyongyang has not been … Continue reading North Korean Forestry Purge Rumors, and the China Angle

Preparing for Doomsday, or October 10, in North Korea

North Korean state media has begun to really ramp up the name-calling at South Korea again. In response to South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s complaint that the ROK was not consulted about the recent North Korean time zone change, and, more significantly, for bringing back the loudspeakers in retaliation for the North Korean landmines, the DPRK has started using President Park’s photograph for Army machine … Continue reading Preparing for Doomsday, or October 10, in North Korea

On Kim Jong-un’s ‘Achievements’ and the North Korean-Chinese Relationship

This past December, many observers of the scene in northeast Asia had questions about the ‘three-year mourning period’ which was coming to an end, ostensibly, in North Korea. Since Kim Jong-il had been continuously eulogized and memorialized since his death, questions were being raised about Kim Jong-un possibly being seen as lacking in respect for his father. There were also questions about a possible change … Continue reading On Kim Jong-un’s ‘Achievements’ and the North Korean-Chinese Relationship

Notes on the Sinchon Massacre

The death of North Korean civilians at Sinchon is significant on a few levels. On the one hand, it calls our attention to the always fractious topic of war crimes in Korea, and the contested nature of the memory of those crimes. On the other hand, the Sinchon massacre has underpinned a great deal of anti-U.S. propaganda in the DPRK and today remains a touchstone … Continue reading Notes on the Sinchon Massacre

Full Comment on the North Korean Execution Rumours

Adam Taylor at the Washington Post was kind enough to get in touch with me for a piece he wrote about some recent and rather grisly execution rumors stemming from new satellite imagery as interpreted by Joe Bermudez and the folks at the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK). A lightly modified version of my full response follows: I think it’s an awful lot … Continue reading Full Comment on the North Korean Execution Rumours

Bubble at the Summit: Insecurities in Kim Jong-un Itineraries

Is Kim Jong-un staggeringly confident, or do his behaviours and travel itineraries betray personal neuroses and structural fears? The short answer is that it depends on the issue under discussion. Let’s take the economy for starters. Like a shrimp rediscovering its appetite after an awful oil spill, the North Korean economy appears to be improving, or so argue a number of indicators. Several smaller dams around the … Continue reading Bubble at the Summit: Insecurities in Kim Jong-un Itineraries