More to Life than Kim Jong-un: Reflections on Robert Collins’ Report on the Organization and Guidance Department

  Today the NK News website published a 1600-word essay I wrote in response to Robert Collins’ extensive new report on the Organization and Guidance Department of the Korean Workers’ Party. A short series of extracts follows: More than ever since January 2017, ‘North Korea watchers’ have been wrestling with a dilemma typical for analysing autocracies: Does one take a personalist interpretation of the DPRK’s diplomacy and … Continue reading More to Life than Kim Jong-un: Reflections on Robert Collins’ Report on the Organization and Guidance Department

On the Opening of the Ji’an-Manp’o Trade Port

As a small Chinese city on the Yalu River, Ji’an (集安) is an often-overlooked juncture for Chinese-North Korean movement of supplies and people. It was the main conduit for the Chinese troops into the DPRK during the initial stages of Mao’s intervention in the Korean War. It is the site of ancient tombs of the Koguryo kingdom, which makes it an important site for ancient … Continue reading On the Opening of the Ji’an-Manp’o Trade Port

Thunderclouds Over the Honeymoon: Xi, Kim, and the Trump Summit

Amid the welter of diplomatic moves that have occurred in and around the Korean peninsula in 2018, the two meetings in quick succession between the North Korean leader and China’s eternally-consolidating leader, Xi Jinping, have been one of the more curious elements. After a six-year hiatus from meeting foreign leaders at all, Kim’s mode of turning so suddenly back to China was indeed extraordinary. The … Continue reading Thunderclouds Over the Honeymoon: Xi, Kim, and the Trump Summit

Media Blackout in Beijing: Reading the Empty Spaces during the Kim Jong-un Visit

Among the dozens of subplots feeding into and out of the curious-but-necessary welcome by Xi Jinping of Kim Jong-un this week is the question of information access and what it means or doesn’t mean about the robustness of the overall Chinese-North Korean relationship. I put together a few preliminary thoughts on this for an outlet based in Seoul, and link and some shorter excerpts of … Continue reading Media Blackout in Beijing: Reading the Empty Spaces during the Kim Jong-un Visit

Questioned Liberators: Guerrilla, Mobile, and Base Warfare in Communist Military Operations in Manchuria, 1945-1947

The years from 1945-1947 were a complex transitional period in the development of Chinese Communist military, political, and diplomatic strategy. While not yet facing the dilemmas of transforming wholesale an insurgent movement into a governing state, the Party was still beset on every side with new dilemmas, contingencies, and existential threats. It feels obvious to state but it bears repeating that during the early stages … Continue reading Questioned Liberators: Guerrilla, Mobile, and Base Warfare in Communist Military Operations in Manchuria, 1945-1947

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