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

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

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

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

Reading North Korea’s Explosive Critique of ‘Opposite Number’

While some sections of North Korea’s Foreign Ministry and various Friendship associations were in middle of a major operation to woo foreign audiences via wrestling, Kim Jong-un was tending to the military. More to the point, his National Defence Commission was hammering out a very angry salvo threatening Britain. For background on the issue, see Channel 4’s own press release about the show (presumably read by … Continue reading Reading North Korea’s Explosive Critique of ‘Opposite Number’

Keeping China in Check: How North Korea Manages its Relationship with a Superpower

The following essay was published at the China Policy Institute blog, University of Nottingham, on 28 July 2014 (link).  Around the world today, knowing how and when to deflect the will of the Chinese Communist Party seems to be something of a common theme. Beijing’s confidence is manifested at every turn: When one of its top leaders arrives in London, China seems to expect nothing … Continue reading Keeping China in Check: How North Korea Manages its Relationship with a Superpower

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