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

New Book Reviews: Espionage in Republican China, and Britain’s Role in the Korean War

My two new book reviews engage with the intelligence history of two chaotic decades in China, and the British role in the Korean War, respectively. Review of Panagiotis Dimitrakis, The Secret War for China: Espionage, Revolution and the Rise of Mao (London: I.B. Tauris, 2017). Forthcoming in War in History (submitted 10 March 2018) Panagiotis Dimitrakis has clearly had a lot of fun compiling this … Continue reading New Book Reviews: Espionage in Republican China, and Britain’s Role in the Korean War

On Red Lines and Reunification: Recent Remarks by the CIA Director on North Korea (updated)

[UPDATED on 5 February 2018:] Donald Trump surely makes the North Korean state nervous. But when CIA Director Mike Pompeo actually emerges from his operations bunker in Virginia, he tends to speaks about twice as fast as the President, and probably gives analysts in Pyongyang twice the reason to pause. A North Korean editorial on 27 January provided a rejoinder to a couple of new … Continue reading On Red Lines and Reunification: Recent Remarks by the CIA Director on North Korea (updated)

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

Trump, Nixon, and Gambling on the Korean Peninsula

This essay fragment was written in December 2016, and has not previously been published. If you’re a gambler, the odds are good that Donald Trump will face a North Korea crisis at some point in his first year in office. In spite of being hit with a wall of UN sanctions, Treasury Department actions, US Executive Orders, and a major flood, North Korea managed to … Continue reading Trump, Nixon, and Gambling on the Korean Peninsula

Right of Reply: Kim Jong-un’s Rejoinder to American Threats at the UN General Assembly

I imagine that most people did not expect Kim Jong-un to make a direct statement to President Trump — I certainly didn’t. But the North Korean leader has done so, adding yet another layer of surprise to an evolving confrontation with the Trump administration, and showing that in spite of living within layer after layer of carefully cultivated legacy politics, he is capable of learning … Continue reading Right of Reply: Kim Jong-un’s Rejoinder to American Threats at the UN General Assembly

North Korea as Cinematic Enemy: Donald Trump and ‘Olympus has Fallen’

I’m a historian of contemporary Northeast Asia, which means that narratives having to do with the Cold War or with peace and war in the region today interest me, even when they’re awful. In 2013, I made the ultimate sacrifice for an academic and went to see Olympus has Fallen, a mass-marketed Hollywood movie that, nominally, intersects with the subject matter I have dedicated myself to study. … Continue reading North Korea as Cinematic Enemy: Donald Trump and ‘Olympus has Fallen’