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

Coupling and De-coupling the North Korean Missile Program from the Kim Jong-un Reformer Narrative

An essay earlier this year by Fyodor Tertitsky, and a recent NewsHour interview with missile specialist Jeffrey Lewis, got me thinking about the nature of the relationship between reform and science/technological advancement in North Korea. Journalist Judy Woodruff concluded her interview with Lewis by almost incredulously asking, “Does North Korea have its own super smart scientists, or do they steal this technology from abroad?” This … Continue reading Coupling and De-coupling the North Korean Missile Program from the Kim Jong-un Reformer Narrative

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

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

Hillary Clinton and the Taxing Friendship: China and North Korea

This essay, previously unpublished, was written in Seattle on 27 May 2010. Hillary Clinton arrived in Beijing last weekend to send an urgent message to China: put pressure on North Korea.  Tensions on the Korean Peninsula are peaking, provoked by the North Korean sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan and the consequent death of 46 soldiers allied to the United States.  Secretary Clinton, like … Continue reading Hillary Clinton and the Taxing Friendship: China and North Korea

Evaded States: Security and Control in the Sino-North Korean Border Region

Adam Cathcart, “Evaded States: Security and Control in the Sino-North Korean Border Region,” in Routledge Handbook of Asian Borderlands, Alexander Horstmann, Martin Saxer, Alessandro Rippa, eds., (Routledge: December 2017), forthcoming. The Chinese-Korean border county of Changbai comprises part of the easternmost frontier of the People’s Republic of China, and of Jilin province. Changbai means “ever-white,” a nod to Chanbaishan (“ever-white mountain”), the symbolically loaded and active volcanic peak … Continue reading Evaded States: Security and Control in the Sino-North Korean Border Region

Writings and Media Work: July 2017

For whatever reason, July has been a particularly active month in the various cockpits where I do my work — coffee shops, trains rocketing between Leeds and London, my university office, and British libraries — and consequently a few things have actually gotten finished. Some of the work that follows is purely opportunistic, but at least a portion of it reflects more deeply on my … Continue reading Writings and Media Work: July 2017

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