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

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

North Korea as Cinematic Enemy: Donald Trump and ‘Olympus has Fallen’

I’m a historian of contemporary Northeast Asia, which means that narratives having to do with the Cold War or with peace and war in the region today interest me, even when they’re awful. In 2013, I made the ultimate sacrifice for an academic and went to see Olympus has Fallen, a mass-marketed Hollywood movie that, nominally, intersects with the subject matter I have dedicated myself to study. … Continue reading North Korea as Cinematic Enemy: Donald Trump and ‘Olympus has Fallen’

North Korean Economic Change as Relinquishing of Party Control

The veteran reporter Choe Sang-hun has produced one of the most interesting analyses to follow in the confused aftermath of the non-event that was the North Korean set piece for foreign journalists in mid-April.  It is entitled “As Economy Grows, North Korea’s Control over Society is Tested,” and was published in the New York Times on 30 April 2017. Apart from quite a bit of detail provided … Continue reading North Korean Economic Change as Relinquishing of Party Control

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

Gen. Douglas MacArthur as 2016 GOP Candidate

Amid the current field of Republicans vying for the Party’s nod in 2016, how would General Douglas MacArthur fare? While MacArthur ended his career without having given a full run for the nomination, arguably reached his career peak in 1946, and lived out his retirement in the New York Waldorf Astoria, perhaps placing the General in the present tense will allow for a few points of … Continue reading Gen. Douglas MacArthur as 2016 GOP Candidate

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

North Korea Misinformation Bingo

When it comes to North Korea, there are an awful lot of hypotheses floating about the information spectrum these days. Whether or not these all have been encouraged, tacitly or otherwise, by the South Korean state (undercutting Kimist legitimacy) or by the North Korean state (as a means of changing the subject from, say, human rights abuses), or are mainly driven by cutthroat competition in … Continue reading North Korea Misinformation Bingo

Ears Plugged, Fuses Lit

Just prior to the tolling of the bells that marked the turning of the year, I was fortunate to have an essay published in South China Morning Post on the subject of China’s leadership and the evolution of their attitudes toward North Korea. Written with two excellent co-authors (Roger Cavazos of Nautilus Insitute and Nathan Beauchamp-Mustafaga of London School of Economics), the full version of the essay … Continue reading Ears Plugged, Fuses Lit

Two New Essays on China Beat: Sino-German and Sino-Korean Relations

I’ve got a few more changes in store for Sinologistical Violoncellist in the new year (most of them involving the bass clef and Japan, not necessarily in that order), but in the meantime, readers may appreciate being directed to two longer essays I recently published on China Beat, cited here in modified Chicago style: Adam Cathcart, “Bow Before the Portrait: Sino-North Korean Relations Enter the … Continue reading Two New Essays on China Beat: Sino-German and Sino-Korean Relations