New Fragments from Mao in the Cultural Revolution

In December 2013, scholars of the history of the PRC were given a shot in the arm via the publication of Mao Zedong Nianpu, 1949-1976, consisting of six volumes of previously obscure materials from the central party archives press (党文献出版社) in Beijing with respect to Mao Zedong. Links to some of my previous translation efforts in this text, mostly focusing on the early 1950s, are included at … Continue reading New Fragments from Mao in the Cultural Revolution

Evaded States: Security and Control in the Sino-North Korean Border Region

Adam Cathcart, “Evaded States: Security and Control in the Sino-North Korean Border Region,” in Routledge Handbook of Asian Borderlands, Alexander Horstmann, Martin Saxer, Alessandro Rippa, eds., (Routledge: December 2017), forthcoming. The Chinese-Korean border county of Changbai comprises part of the easternmost frontier of the People’s Republic of China, and of Jilin province. Changbai means “ever-white,” a nod to Chanbaishan (“ever-white mountain”), the symbolically loaded and active volcanic peak … Continue reading Evaded States: Security and Control in the Sino-North Korean Border Region

Wartime History and Beijing’s Response to the New Defence Minister in Tokyo

In the wake of the Upper House elections in Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has completed a reshuffling of his cabinet. As described by Japan hand Michael Cucek, it was not a particularly inspiring set of choices made by the newly-consolidated Prime Minister: Taro Aso (the right-wing former PM perhaps best recalled for his off-the-cuff endorsement of Hitler’s constitutional revision style) remains at the helm … Continue reading Wartime History and Beijing’s Response to the New Defence Minister in Tokyo

China and the North Korean Workers’ Party Congress

The following is the full text of an interview I recently gave, excerpts from which were published in Liberation, the quintessential Parisian daily, on 5 May 2016 (link).  Q. Do we expect any senior CCP official from Beijing to attend the May 6th Party Congress in Pyongyang ? Did any CCP official attend the last one in 1980 ? What would such a presence signal ? How do you … Continue reading China and the North Korean Workers’ Party Congress

Notes on the Music Scene in Pyongyang

I was in North Korea for several days in the middle of March 2016. While my main purpose was to visit the Sinchon Massacre Museum for a Korean War research project in which I am engaged, I was also quite interested in the performing arts and arts scenes, since those are areas which are relatively more permeable to foreign researchers and ones in which the … Continue reading Notes on the Music Scene in Pyongyang

Recent Media Commentary on North Korea, and Chinese-North Korean Relations

With the apparent breakdown of Chinese-North Korean cultural diplomacy in December, North Korea’s testing of a purported hydrogen bomb in January, and a missile test and sanctions debate in February, the past three months have seen much media interest in Sino-North Korean relations, and of course North Korea generally. The following citation information, and, in some cases, full quotes in context of my interviews with media … Continue reading Recent Media Commentary on North Korea, and Chinese-North Korean Relations

Full Comment on the Latest American Detention in Pyongyang

I was interviewed for a story in TIME magazine [full citation: Charlie Campbell, “The Detention of a U.S. Student in North Korea Underscores the Risks of Travelling There,” TIME Asia, 25 January 2016]. The following is my full comment: While the post-detention treatment of such individuals is always political and used for domestic and international propaganda effect by the regime, the arrests themselves are usually … Continue reading Full Comment on the Latest American Detention in Pyongyang

Recent Work on Sino-North Korean Relations, History, and Chinese Foreign Policy

The arbitrarily configured 70th anniversary of the Korean Workers’ Party, and the presence of a high-level Chinese delegation in Pyongyang, created a need for some commentary and context.  This post aggregates some of things I did in response to the event, and in the two months since the “August DMZ loudspeaker crisis” earlier this year. On October 10, I was quoted in the Washington Post, … Continue reading Recent Work on Sino-North Korean Relations, History, and Chinese Foreign Policy

Othello in Pyongyang: Reading North Korea in the German Archives, circa 1950-1977

The relationship between East Germany and North Korea was not simply a curiosity of the Cold War; it was a relationship with tangible results, interactions, and ideals. Here are some of the more interesting documents I cycled through this past week in Berlin, in the order in which they were scribbled in my notebook. (No cameras are allowed in the archives, and photocopies of original documents, … Continue reading Othello in Pyongyang: Reading North Korea in the German Archives, circa 1950-1977

North Korea has upped its game in the propaganda war

This essay was originally published at The Conversation on 19 December 2014, and is reprinted with permission. The release of The Interview, an American comedy depicting the death of North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, has been cancelled. A massive cyberattack on Sony, widely blamed on Pyongyang, and apparent threats against cinemas showing the film made it clear just what can happen when you release a film that makes … Continue reading North Korea has upped its game in the propaganda war