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

The Kim Il-Sung Socialist Youth League and Cultural Expression in North Korea

The following is the full text of an interview I did with Kati Chitracorn of Business of Fashion magazine, interspersed with running tweets and commentary focusing on the Kim Il-sung Socialist Youth League and youth culture generally in North Korea. Incidentally, I keep waiting for a reporter to do a big feature on the role of the Socialist Youth League in construction of an epic hydropower … Continue reading The Kim Il-Sung Socialist Youth League and Cultural Expression in North Korea

Journalist Expulsions and Beijing’s Counterterrorism Narrative

2015 was supposedly a triumphant year for the Chinese Communist Party, but the CCP seemed determined to end the year on a landslide of insecurity with respect to the foreign journalists within its borders. The expulsion of French journalist Ursela Gauthier was, of course, the primary case in point. As Gauthier noted, her case was not just about her single report and subsequent failure to engage in … Continue reading Journalist Expulsions and Beijing’s Counterterrorism Narrative

Stalinist Modes of Violent Power Consolidation

Last week the student discussions in my “Mao and Modern China” module at Leeds University centred on the old dichotomy between violent coercion and persuasive communication in the early years of the People’s Republic of China. We might also phrase the inquiry as a look into Mao’s role in the Campaign to Suppress Counter-revolutionaries. Accordingly, a handful of points from some recent (and some rather … Continue reading Stalinist Modes of Violent Power Consolidation

Putting a Price Tag on North Korea’s October 10 Celebrations

I don’t doubt there is an abundance of potential fury in North Korea’s provinces, but it does seem odd that a single parade, fireworks display, and associated banquets and pageantry would eat up an amount equivalent roughly equivalent to 7% of the country’s GDP (source: CIA World Factbook, 2013 GDP est. at 28 billion). While Pyongyang remains the inevitable epicentre of state expenditure and ostentatious display, the … Continue reading Putting a Price Tag on North Korea’s October 10 Celebrations

‘Day of Songun’ and the Ongoing Succession Process in North Korea

It is a coincidence, but an interesting one, that North Korean representatives concluded their negotiations with South Korea just in time for August 25, the ‘Day of Songun’ in the DPRK.  As faithful readers of the Sino-NK website will be aware, the ‘Day of Songun’ was devised in 2012 and promulgated in 2013; its overt intention was to commemorate the deceased Kim Jong-il’s early dedication … Continue reading ‘Day of Songun’ and the Ongoing Succession Process in North Korea

Songs, Film, and Ideological Shifts in the DPRK

Unlike songs which can put forth a new policy line in the space of a day or two, films take longer to congeal and embody ideological shifts. Chinese media covered this film “Rice Plant Flower” 《稻花》with a slight implication that there might be something about wealth accumulation in it, but it looks to be quite orthodox and in no way indicative of the Party’s reported … Continue reading Songs, Film, and Ideological Shifts in the DPRK

Atrocities, Insults, and “Jeep Girls”: Depictions of the U.S. Military in China, 1945-1949

Controversy continues to surround various military occupations in East Asia in the 20th century. Specifically, the connection between military occupation and sex work carried out by women the occupied countries remains highly fraught. While the Japanese occupations of Korea and China have sparked the most fervent and intractable of the debates, a great deal of scholarship has been produced about East Asian societies which provided American … Continue reading Atrocities, Insults, and “Jeep Girls”: Depictions of the U.S. Military in China, 1945-1949

The Interview: A Rare Glimpse into the Alternate Reality of CNN in North Korea

CNN’s Will Ripley was recently summoned to Pyongyang, coinciding nicely with North Korea’s announcement that the country had placed yet another American wanderer in custody for crossing the border illegally. Apart from a short interview with the young sufferer (he has been diagnosed with an extreme condition of “North Korean ennui”), Ripley was given access to a real live North Korean official, who delivered the … Continue reading The Interview: A Rare Glimpse into the Alternate Reality of CNN in North Korea

Fireworks from the Bunker: North Korea’s Role in Borderless Tourist Zone Revealed

Everything about this Reuters piece about a possible breakthrough in Chinese-North Korean cross-border tourism is great, until: “The [tri-national] zone is the latest push by North Korea to transform itself into a tourist attraction.” While it is true that North Korea has spent a huge amount of money on tourism prestige projects (i.e., Masik Pass Ski Resort) since Kim Jong-un came to power, it is far … Continue reading Fireworks from the Bunker: North Korea’s Role in Borderless Tourist Zone Revealed