Walls as Multivalent Icons in Early People’s Republican Cartoons, 1946-1951

The rise and ultimate victory of the Chinese Communist Party in the Chinese civil war, and Mao’s galvanizing intervention into the Korean War, was accompanied and supported by a wave of cultural propaganda that depicted the CCP as the strongest defenders and representatives of the Chinese nation. This paper looks at an array of cartoons from the late 1940s and early 50s to argue that … Continue reading Walls as Multivalent Icons in Early People’s Republican Cartoons, 1946-1951

New Book Reviews: Espionage in Republican China, and Britain’s Role in the Korean War

My two new book reviews engage with the intelligence history of two chaotic decades in China, and the British role in the Korean War, respectively. Review of Panagiotis Dimitrakis, The Secret War for China: Espionage, Revolution and the Rise of Mao (London: I.B. Tauris, 2017). Forthcoming in War in History (submitted 10 March 2018) Panagiotis Dimitrakis has clearly had a lot of fun compiling this … Continue reading New Book Reviews: Espionage in Republican China, and Britain’s Role in the Korean War

Documenting Coastal Night Raids of North Korea, October 1950

Among the unique sources for Korean War history available in the United Kingdom, those associated with Labour MP Tom Driberg are particularly intriguing. I first became aware of Driberg as part of an article project entitled ‘British Responses to Korean War Crimes’ (co-authored with Hannah Dawson, forthcoming in English Historical Review, 2019). Initially, Driberg appeared as a voice of conscience in the House of Commons calling … Continue reading Documenting Coastal Night Raids of North Korea, October 1950

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

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

Border Consolidation in Liaoning: From Chen Yun to Xi Jinping

For presentation at Leiden University lecture series “Borders: Life on the Edge of Area Studies“, 28 February 2017: For the Chinese Communist Party, the northeastern province of Liaoning today inhabits an odd position on the “One Belt, One Road” strategic line. Stuck with a recalcitrant North Korean neighbour, the CCP is endeavouring to revive the regional economy by reaching beyond various fundamental North Korean blockages … Continue reading Border Consolidation in Liaoning: From Chen Yun to Xi Jinping

Recent Histories of (Local) Violence in the Korean War

Today I received a stunning new text: Su-kyoung Hwang’s monograph Korea’s Grievous War (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016). A link to the publisher’s description of the book is here. Dr. Hwang received her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, teaches at the University of Sydney, and has put together a very impressive work. She appears to go well beyond the issues laid out in Kim Dong-choon’s book from … Continue reading Recent Histories of (Local) Violence in the Korean War

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