Poking the Wasp Nest: Shen Zhihua’s Controversial Speech on North Korea

Why should we care about scholars in China, or the complaints they have toward North Korea? Usually, readers take interest in Chinese scholarly debates because something specific and enticing has been translated into English implying that a Beijing policy shift toward North Korea may be in the offing.    Shen Zhihua’s March 2017 speech in Dalian became the latest in this periodic series of subterranean … Continue reading Poking the Wasp Nest: Shen Zhihua’s Controversial Speech on North Korea

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

China and the North Korean Workers’ Party Congress

The following is the full text of an interview I recently gave, excerpts from which were published in Liberation, the quintessential Parisian daily, on 5 May 2016 (link).  Q. Do we expect any senior CCP official from Beijing to attend the May 6th Party Congress in Pyongyang ? Did any CCP official attend the last one in 1980 ? What would such a presence signal ? How do you … Continue reading China and the North Korean Workers’ Party Congress

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

Comrades in Crisis: Chinese-North Korean Relations in War, Occupation, and Today

On 25 March 2016, I will present the following paper at Yonsei University in Seoul, thanks to an invitation from John Delury and the Yonsei Underwood International College International Studies Program. More details about specific venue will follow in due course. The lecture will take place at 2 p.m. Title: Comrades in Crisis: Chinese-North Korean Relations in War, Occupation, and Today Abstract: In our time, the reciprocal bonds … Continue reading Comrades in Crisis: Chinese-North Korean Relations in War, Occupation, and Today

Full Comment on the Latest American Detention in Pyongyang

I was interviewed for a story in TIME magazine [full citation: Charlie Campbell, “The Detention of a U.S. Student in North Korea Underscores the Risks of Travelling There,” TIME Asia, 25 January 2016]. The following is my full comment: While the post-detention treatment of such individuals is always political and used for domestic and international propaganda effect by the regime, the arrests themselves are usually … Continue reading Full Comment on the Latest American Detention in Pyongyang

The Moranbong Band and Regime Consolidation in the DPRK

Today, media in Beijing announced that the Moranbong Band, the all-female ensemble associated closely with Kim Jong-un, will be travelling to China for five days of performances. An academic paper I delivered last month about the Band is available in audio on SoundCloud; the accompanying Powerpoint is available at the following link: Moranbong Band presentation. Citation: Adam Cathcart, “The Moranbong Band and Regime Consolidation in the … Continue reading The Moranbong Band and Regime Consolidation in the DPRK

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

The WIDF and the Debate over Korean War Crimes

In a  recent essay for Japan Focus, Rutgers University historian Suzy Kim includes a retrospective on the Women’s International Democratic Federation’s 1951 report from North Korea and that delegation’s function as a cornerstone in what she calls “a feminist history of Women Cross DMZ” 2015. Having spent the last couple of days researching the WIDF in the Bundesarchiv in Berlin, I absolutely agree with Dr. … Continue reading The WIDF and the Debate over Korean War Crimes