George H.W. Bush in Mao’s China

  With the death of George H.W. Bush, it is an opportune time to look back at his time as the top U.S. diplomat in Beijing in the immediate aftermath of Nixon’s 1972 groundbreaking visit to China. Although the period of Bush’s presidency (1989-1993) has yet to hit the Foreign Relations of the United States volumes, a large amount of open-source material has been made available … Continue reading George H.W. Bush in Mao’s China

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

Notes on North Korean Musical Exchanges and Internal Narratives

A lot of people seem to be interested in North Korean cultural diplomacy these days, so the (often peer-reviewed/probably badly flawed/usually enormously fun) work which I have been doing on this issue for the last decade has allowed me to say a few not completely ignorant things about it for a wider public. [Updated 6 April 2018:] This morning I spoke about it with Canada’s … Continue reading Notes on North Korean Musical Exchanges and Internal Narratives

Documents on Crown Prince Hirohito’s visit to the United Kingdom in 1921

Historian Herbert Bix describes Hirohito’s long voyage to the United Kingdom in 1921 as a number of things: it was a test of the court and the conservatives in Tokyo (some factions did not want him to go at all), it was a means of showing the soon-to-be-regent some world trends, it was a possibly dangerous undertaking (he was ashore in Hong Kong for all … Continue reading Documents on Crown Prince Hirohito’s visit to the United Kingdom in 1921

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

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

Chinese Journalists and the U.S. Occupation of Japan

At the conclusion of eight years of Japanese occupation of nearly every major city in the Republic of China, Chinese journalists were prepared not just to celebrate victory but to join the Allied nations in occupying Japan. The desire to undo the fundamental reorientation of the Sino-Japanese hierarchy of 1894-95  and restore China to regional preeminence was nearly universal, as was the consensus of seeing China … Continue reading Chinese Journalists and the U.S. Occupation of Japan

New Koguryo Research in Pyongyang, or, How to Revive a Historical Dispute on China’s National Day

It doesn’t take much skill at reading tea-leaves in Chinese or English to recognize that Kim Jong-un’s letter of congratulations to Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, and Zhang Dejiang on the PRC’s National Day fell far short of what, from a Chinese perspective, it should have been. Kim’s three brief sentences were newsworthy because he was ostensibly bed-ridden, but also because they indicated a lack of … Continue reading New Koguryo Research in Pyongyang, or, How to Revive a Historical Dispute on China’s National Day

On the Inoki Visit to North Korea

Given the amount of public interest in the just-concluded visit of Japanese and American wrestlers to Pyongyang, led by lawmaker (and former wrestling star) Kanji Inoki, I thought I might share a few comments I prepared just as the visit was getting underway. JAPAN-DPRK I think this particular trip is much more about Japan-DPRK relations than some sop to warmer relations with the United States … Continue reading On the Inoki Visit to North Korea

Inter-Korean Sports Diplomacy: Comment in the Washington Post

Adam Taylor runs a key foreign affairs blog for the Washington Post. Today he was kind enough to ask for my views on this story of his about North Korea offering to send cheerleaders to Incheon for the Asian Games. Here is the full text of my response: I do think that [the offer to send a cheerleading squad to the South]  is important and … Continue reading Inter-Korean Sports Diplomacy: Comment in the Washington Post