Americans in Pyongyang: Detainees, Prisoners, Hostages, and Pawns

Yesterday, North Korea gave the US media momentary access to three American nationals currently detained in the DPRK. Finding the right terms to capture what function these three unfortunate men are serving at the moment is tricky at the moment. For convenience, let’s just start with nouns: “Detainee” is probably the most neutral designation, though for certain intrepid lawyers even this language has been tainted by post-9/11 practices and the erosion … Continue reading Americans in Pyongyang: Detainees, Prisoners, Hostages, and Pawns

Kim Ki-nam and North Korea’s Orchestral Politics

Kim Jong Eun commands attention for obvious reasons. His charismatic heft, however, also manages to obscure a number of the other personalities at the apex of North Korean politics who arguably do more to make the whole system run. Within this group there are a small handful of individuals who deserve a great deal more critical attention, and none more so than Kim Ki Nam. … Continue reading Kim Ki-nam and North Korea’s Orchestral Politics

Mao Zedong on “What to Praise, What to Condemn” (1951)

In the six volumes of Mao Zedong Nianpu (1949-1976) published in Beijing this past December 2013, a number of new texts can be located, and minor mysteries solved. Chronologically organized, the writing in May 1951 is particularly interesting. I located one discussion, on May 19, 1951, where Mao is revealed as the active co-author of Hu Qiaomu of an editorial on the subject of the film Wu … Continue reading Mao Zedong on “What to Praise, What to Condemn” (1951)

Kunming, Lhasa, Chengdu, Berlin: Sources on Tibetan 20th Century History

Now that the minzu (ethnicity) question is so centrally on the table in China, it is a good time to be looking to the past, for roots of current disputes and opportunities to overcome that multifarious and often very wounded past. Just as the events in Kunming need to be embedded into their regional context, we also need to look to history. By the Power … Continue reading Kunming, Lhasa, Chengdu, Berlin: Sources on Tibetan 20th Century History

New Scholarship on China’s War Against Japan: Rana Mitter and the Wiles Lectures at Queen’s University Belfast

Rana Mitter is among the most dynamic, productive, and visible historians working on East Asia in the UK today. Dr. Mitter will be delivering a series of uniquely prestigious and endowed lectures in Belfast, at Queen’s University, from 28-31 May of this year. The series title is ‘Fighting Fate: Wartime Society and the Making of Modern China.‘   I’m delighted to have been invited to … Continue reading New Scholarship on China’s War Against Japan: Rana Mitter and the Wiles Lectures at Queen’s University Belfast

Assessing Chinese-North Korean Relations: Presentation at Ohio State University

On 9 January, I was fortunate to be able to address a group of scholars and graduate students at Ohio State University. Video of the talk will be available soon, and the abstract for the paper can be read here (opens as pdf). My colleagues at Sino-NK did a rather generous pre-presentation write-up with multiple links. Again, when the video becomes available, I will post it … Continue reading Assessing Chinese-North Korean Relations: Presentation at Ohio State University

China’s Soft Power Strategy and the DPRK

Is North Korea, as Joseph Nye once apparently argued, “immune” from soft power and persuasion? In a recent North Korea Review article, Steven Denney and I argue that the DRPK is not. Recent events in Pyongyang involving an American basketball delegation meeting with Kim Jong-un are not necessarily bizarre, nor are they without utility for both the Americans and the North Koreans. Certainly they should … Continue reading China’s Soft Power Strategy and the DPRK

Discussing the Korean War at AAS 2014

My panel, entitled “Utilizing the Captured Documents: New Perspectives on Society, Institutions, and Foreign Relations in Revolutionary and Wartime North Korea, 1945-1953,” has been accepted for the March 27-30 2014 annual meeting of the Association of Asian Studies. The panel, organized by Chuck Kraus at George Washington University, will feature Bruce Cumings (the foremost scholar of the war), myself, Chuck Kraus, and Youngjun Kim. Abstract: … Continue reading Discussing the Korean War at AAS 2014