String Crossings: Tracking the Evolution of North Korea’s Moranbong Band

One of the advantages of staying at the top North Korean hotel in Shenyang, the Chilbosan, is that the nightly broadcasts from Pyongyang are available in real time. Earlier this month, I made a visit to the hotel and was rewarded with a news broadcast from Pyongyang which featured highly the return of the Moranbong Band. The first violin/concertmaster Sonu Hyang-hui finally reappeared with the … Continue reading String Crossings: Tracking the Evolution of North Korea’s Moranbong Band

“Spit at the American Gentlemen” : North Korean State Media Rolls Out the Welcome Mat for Google

A short article released on January 10 in Pyongyang was fairly enervating, though no news media outlet seems to have picked it up yet. Nor, as Daniel Pinkston has pointed out already, has any Western media picked up on any of Pyongyang’s bellicose statements before, during, or after the Google visit. That’s an awfully odd way to report (or, more accurately, not report) on a country. Near the end … Continue reading “Spit at the American Gentlemen” : North Korean State Media Rolls Out the Welcome Mat for Google

Algorithms of Revolution and Control in Pyongyang and Guangzhou

An American entrepreneur arrives at the doorstep of a system that clearly sees digitization as a tool of social control.  North Korea is, as one wise man howled from the back of a long socialist queue, “hell bent on controlling the market and its digital trappings.” So what is Eric Schmidt doing in the Democratic People’s Republic of Firewall? And is it really obligatory for us to cheer … Continue reading Algorithms of Revolution and Control in Pyongyang and Guangzhou

Orchestrating Changes on the Multi-Front Electronic Struggle

Decamping from Chengdu, late summer 2012

Recapitulation |  After a solid run of 32 months, the academic weblog Sinologistical Violoncellist has reached its logical conclusion. Since beginning in April 2009, this sole-authored website has been cited in some excellent venues for East Asia news and analysis, including the (web) pages of The Atlantic, Harper’s and The Economist, and Danwei.org.  

I’ve been fortunate to have been quoted in newspapers like the Portland Oregonian and journals like Foreign Policy, and to have had interviews with reporters for newspapers like the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal, for whom my work on Sinologistical Violoncellist was a point of entry into my areas of expertise.

As Paul Olivier of Melville House wrote on the publisher’s literary blog, “[Cathcart’s] blog is more of a single scholar’s East Asian Journal (capital “J”) than it is a weblog.”

Sure, that.

With a parachutist’s approach to East Asia, the blog dealt with all manner of issues as they arose or came to mind: the Chinese youth movement of the 1980s as depicted in East German archives, the social calendar of CCP princelings in Paris, Chinese interpretations of World War II, or environmental movements in China.

Based on my travels, readers could get a gauge on what was going on in Tibet, Chengdu, Beijing, and China’s border with North Korea. Doing fieldwork and archive-dives as a historian can have its benefits.

New Start-Ups |  In December 2011, I made an important break from the present blog and started SinoNK.com, a site focusing on China’s evolving relationship with North Korea.  I’m the Editor-in-Chief of the site and am managing the output of the SinoNK.com Staff (which includes 20 exellent writers and analysts from around the world).

I remain engaged on a larger project on musical diplomacy generally, extending on my academic work on the role of classical music in the Nixon visit to China in 1972 and the visit of the New York Philharmonic to Pyongyang and Beijing in 2008.  A portion of this was just published at Yonsei University, and I will be lecturing on the topic at Stanford University on November 2, 2012. Also relative to this project is its “applied” element, which in my case has included a number of cello performances and recordings in both Europe and China, which can be learned more about on the Amitayus Duo website.

I’m also making a move this fall to the United Kingdom, specifically, to Queen’s University, Belfast, where I will be teaching two courses (World War II in East Asia, and the Cold War in Asia, in the fall and spring, respectively) and supervising a handful of theses and dissertations.

Let me get to the point:

The site is now SinoMondiale.

There will likely be ongoing redesigns and tweaks, but we’re here for the long run.

Expect a healthy mixture of commentary on contemporary history in China, cultural diplomacy, and — a big goal for the fall — China’s experience with Japan in World War II.

Among the questions I hope to answer is: Who is General Takahashi Gaku[高桥坦], and how did he end up surrendering to the Chinese Nationalists in October 1945 in Beijing and dying in a Nanking military prison the following year?

General Chiang Kai-shek’s adjutant awaits the arrival of Japanese Imperial Army General Takahashi on the dais in the Forbidden City, Beijing, October 10, 1945. Image via Huanqiu Shibao

The answers tendered to this and other questions should be suitably eclectic, and, I hope, give readers a reason to keep coming back.  Continue reading “Orchestrating Changes on the Multi-Front Electronic Struggle”

JR’s Soft Power Summary

In what I anticipate will be an ongoing feature to strengthen the cultural diplomacy and Chinese “soft power” profile on this site, SinoMondiale will be carrying some periodic summaries of related work by JustRecently, whose weblog, as can be seen from even a casual glance at his handiwork just today, is one of the most detailed and active sites for analysis of the mechanics and rhetoric of China’s soft power strategy today. — Adam Cathcart

Continue reading “JR’s Soft Power Summary”