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

Pu Yi as Witness

In his 1946 testimony at the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (the Tokyo Trials), Pu Yi, the former Emperor of the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo, proved to be an exceptionally difficult witness. The following extract from the IMFTE Proceedings (p. 4,085) seems to capture the obdurate and unproductive nature of his eight-day appearance at Tokyo. Q. On what date was Manchukuo established as a … Continue reading Pu Yi as Witness

Succession Politics and Commemorative Culture in North Korea: Seminar Paper at SOAS

On 14 November, I will be delivering the following paper at the SOAS Centre for Korean Studies as part of their seminar series. Succession Politics and Commemorative Culture in North Korea Abstract: In the Kim Jong-un era (December 2011-present), the North Korean state has made a series of moves to further augment and consolidate the ideological foundations of Kimism. Rather than using the emergence of … Continue reading Succession Politics and Commemorative Culture in North Korea: Seminar Paper at SOAS

New Koguryo Research in Pyongyang, or, How to Revive a Historical Dispute on China’s National Day

It doesn’t take much skill at reading tea-leaves in Chinese or English to recognize that Kim Jong-un’s letter of congratulations to Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, and Zhang Dejiang on the PRC’s National Day fell far short of what, from a Chinese perspective, it should have been. Kim’s three brief sentences were newsworthy because he was ostensibly bed-ridden, but also because they indicated a lack of … Continue reading New Koguryo Research in Pyongyang, or, How to Revive a Historical Dispute on China’s National Day

Odyssey of Extortion: Chinese Press Coverage of the North Korean Boat Hijacking

How is it that the world beyond Beijing and Pyongyang becomes aware of Chinese-North Korean fishing disputes in the Yellow Sea? North Korea remains silent on such matters, so information is distributed almost purely through reports in mainland Chinese media–in other words, we hear about such events when Beijing needs and wants them to become known. When Chinese fishermen are harassed and detained by North Korean … Continue reading Odyssey of Extortion: Chinese Press Coverage of the North Korean Boat Hijacking

Comment on Haggard: The North Korean Restaurant Franchise

Stephan Haggard is an endless source of extreme quantities of highly enriched North Korea information. His ‘blog’ posts (which are usually more like mini-journal articles, trenchantly done but lighter and more fluent in style)  at Witness to Transformation place him at the prow of a mighty and miraculously regular enterprise, so it’s only courteous to add data in the form of a comment if you’ve … Continue reading Comment on Haggard: The North Korean Restaurant Franchise

In the Shadow of Jang Song-taek: Lecture in Washington, D.C.

On Thursday, June 19, in Washington, D.C., I gave a lecture and participated in an extensive Q & A on the subject of post-purge North Korean Special Economic Zones in China. The Q & A for the event, hosted by the Korea Economic Institute as part of its Academic Paper Series, starts at about minute 45 of the above video; the pdf of the working … Continue reading In the Shadow of Jang Song-taek: Lecture in Washington, D.C.