Napalm and Invasion: North Korean War Memory and British Sources

In a recent post on his black-and-white personal blog, the North Korea scholar B.R. Myers criticizes a recent ream of journalistic think pieces about the function of Korean War memory in the DPRK. The essays, Myers writes, uncritically accept the argument that North Korean memories of US bombing from 1950-53 are a foremost justification today for the pursuit of a nuclear deterrent. To put it another way, Myers … Continue reading Napalm and Invasion: North Korean War Memory and British Sources

Reflections on the History of Chinese-North Korean Relations, and US-DPRK Relations Today

Sometimes we need to modify the questions we ask. The question “Is the Chinese Communist Party going to cut off North Korea?” results in a fairly predictable string of analyses — usually adding up to an answer of “no.” Perhaps we might be better off by shifting perspectives, asking “To what extent does the regime in Pyongyang trust its counterpart in Beijing?” Such a question … Continue reading Reflections on the History of Chinese-North Korean Relations, and US-DPRK Relations Today

Comment on the North Korean Missile Launch

I was on BBC television this evening (via the Leeds studio) discussing the North Korean missile launch with Celia Hatton, who, fortunately for me and the BBC, is a veteran ‘China hand’ with years of experience in Beijing. Hatton is now a presenter in London, and she was kind enough to have a discussion with me about the relevant issues prior to going on the air, … Continue reading Comment on the North Korean Missile Launch

North Korean Human Rights: Rex Tillerson as Blank Slate

Will the Trump administration maintain and extend US pressure on North Korea on the human rights front? Will the Executive Branch aim to extend and intensify US criticism of and dialogue with Chinese counterparts on topics regarding the PRC’s mistreatment, hukou discrimination, imprisonment, and/or refoulement of North Korean refugees? At a 29 November 2016 event at the Bush Library, Senator Lieberman said keeping up the human … Continue reading North Korean Human Rights: Rex Tillerson as Blank Slate

Pre-emptive strike plans in Korea

In response to a question from a reporter about Operational Plan 5015: In a certain sense, the North Koreans are the victims of their own inflated rhetoric and propaganda about their missile & nuclear programs, as well as their aggressive sea border defence. And, from the standpoint of Seoul, here have been an unending stream of threats and local provocations since Kim Jong-un arrived on … Continue reading Pre-emptive strike plans in Korea

Bypassing Beijing? North Korean Foreign Relations in April and May

Responding with appropriately prepared shock to the 15 April rocket launch, assessing the crescendo to the big Party Congress in early May in Pyongyang, adding to the noise over the defection of “the Ningbo 13,” and spreading rumours of a fifth nuclear test: all of these activities take time and effort. Get ready for North Korea's counterpropaganda offensive about the #Ningbo13. It starts w/ CNN … Continue reading Bypassing Beijing? North Korean Foreign Relations in April and May

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

Preparing for Doomsday, or October 10, in North Korea

North Korean state media has begun to really ramp up the name-calling at South Korea again. In response to South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s complaint that the ROK was not consulted about the recent North Korean time zone change, and, more significantly, for bringing back the loudspeakers in retaliation for the North Korean landmines, the DPRK has started using President Park’s photograph for Army machine … Continue reading Preparing for Doomsday, or October 10, in North Korea

Occupying North Korea, Witnessing Massacre? Military Sources and the Question of US/UK Forces in Sinchon

The North Korean state claims that US troops arrived in Sinchon, Hwanghae province, on 17 October 1950 and promptly began butchering civilians, culminating in over 35,000 dead by the time of their retreat on 7 December. To my knowledge, no serious writing outside of North Korea has been made to determine if the body count is accurate. However, writers and scholars like Hwang Sok-yong and Kim … Continue reading Occupying North Korea, Witnessing Massacre? Military Sources and the Question of US/UK Forces in Sinchon

North Korean Purges and Scuttlebutt

A few days after publishing a 2500-word analysis of the Hyon Yong-chol purge aftermath (an abbreviated version of which was published by the Guardian), I spoke with Steve Miller of the Asia News Weekly podcast about a number of issues relating to North Korea and the situation in northeast Asia. A sound & video recording of our conversation, along with some prefatory text, is available here. Continue reading North Korean Purges and Scuttlebutt