“The Enemies Made this Possible”: Sino-North Korean Relations after 1948

Adrian Buzo will be publishing a large Routledge Handbook on North Korea  (which I believe is slated to be published in 2021) and asked me to contribute a chapter. I asked my PhD student Yujin Lim to co-author this piece and fortunately she agreed, since she has been working in North Korean materials available in Seoul and recently published an impressive article on the geometry … Continue reading “The Enemies Made this Possible”: Sino-North Korean Relations after 1948

On Think Tanks, or, What Trump Didn’t Get in Helsinki

The Trump administration has brought with it a dark winter of discontent to US think tanks. Institutions stocked with the analytical rosters of former Clinton and Obama appointees with North Korea-related expertise are hardly alone; even experts at the Heritage Foundation find themselves unable to embrace the steps being taken by this unorthodox Republican administration. The discontent within the think tanks appears to be matched by the rise of skepticism … Continue reading On Think Tanks, or, What Trump Didn’t Get in Helsinki

North Koreans Watching Fox

This post operates on sanity-preserving ground rules: No referring to: think-pieces, think-tank analyses, journalistic hot takes, outraged or absurd Tweets (other than those thumbed out by POTUS), Chuck Schumer’s courageous stand against a commemorative coin, or speculation about what this consistently incoherent White House intends to do. Do not engage with the orgy of clickbait flowing out of the inexplicable leak from the Pompeo/Andrew Kim … Continue reading North Koreans Watching Fox

On the Perils of Journalistic Moonlighting for Academics

The inter-Korean summit which occurred on 27 April coincided with a rare trench of open time and full energy for me, so I was able to write three pieces in response. None of these is full of blistering insights per se, but perhaps by discussing their production in aggregate I can convey something useful about the way the world of journalistic commentary works for academics, … Continue reading On the Perils of Journalistic Moonlighting for Academics

Thunderclouds Over the Honeymoon: Xi, Kim, and the Trump Summit

Amid the welter of diplomatic moves that have occurred in and around the Korean peninsula in 2018, the two meetings in quick succession between the North Korean leader and China’s eternally-consolidating leader, Xi Jinping, have been one of the more curious elements. After a six-year hiatus from meeting foreign leaders at all, Kim’s mode of turning so suddenly back to China was indeed extraordinary. The … Continue reading Thunderclouds Over the Honeymoon: Xi, Kim, and the Trump Summit

Media Blackout in Beijing: Reading the Empty Spaces during the Kim Jong-un Visit

Among the dozens of subplots feeding into and out of the curious-but-necessary welcome by Xi Jinping of Kim Jong-un this week is the question of information access and what it means or doesn’t mean about the robustness of the overall Chinese-North Korean relationship. I put together a few preliminary thoughts on this for an outlet based in Seoul, and link and some shorter excerpts of … Continue reading Media Blackout in Beijing: Reading the Empty Spaces during the Kim Jong-un Visit

Debate at Cambridge Union

Proposition: ‘This House Fears Kim’s North Korea more than Putin’s Russia’ Thursday, February 1, 2018 – 19:30 Debate at the Cambridge Union Arguing for the PROPOSITION Louise Mensch // A British journalist and former Conservative MP, Mensch is an outspoken commentator on Putin and President Trump’s alleged links to Russia. Barbara Demick // An American journalist, formerly Beijing bureau chief of the Los Angeles Times. … Continue reading Debate at Cambridge Union

Resources on North Korean Music Diplomacy

  One strand of my ongoing academic work as a historian of Northeast Asia concerns music and cultural diplomacy in and by North Korea. My published online work on this topic generally does a few things. It: – tries to understand what the music scene means for broader cultural changes in Kim Jong-un’s Korea; – documents which ensembles seem to be in the favour of … Continue reading Resources on North Korean Music Diplomacy

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

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