All posts tagged: cultural diplomacy

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

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Korean National Opera

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, once ordered, take a few weeks to arrive.) All citations are […]

Inter-Korean Sports Diplomacy: Comment in the Washington Post

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Cultural Politics / East Asian modernity / North Korea / Public Diplomacy / Soft Power

Adam Taylor runs a key foreign affairs blog for the Washington Post. Today he was kind enough to ask for my views on this story of his about North Korea offering to send cheerleaders to Incheon for the Asian Games. Here is the full text of my response: I do think that [the offer to send a cheerleading squad to the South]  is important and noteworthy; I do not see this as just some throwaway […]

New German Ambassador in Pyongyang

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EU-East Asia relations / German / North Korea

On August 14 in Pyongyang, the 85-year-old leader Kim Yong-nam, himself only two weeks removed from a recent trip to Tehran, welcomed Thomas Schäfer as the new Ambassador from Berlin.  As reported on Nordkorea-info, the essential German-language website for North Korean studies,  Schäfer is back in Pyongyang after a short stint in Guatemala. Schäfer had previously been Germany’s ambassador to the DPRK from 2007-2010, ending his tenure during a year of much turmoil that included the North Korean sinking […]

Moranbong: Following French Intellectuals to North Korea in 1958

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Cultural Politics / EU-East Asia relations / French / history and memory / North Korea / Sino-French Relations

As I’ve completed a long article on the subject of Sino-French relations in the mid-1950s with a focus on the 1955 journey of Simone de Beauvoir to the People’s Republic of China, the following press release, sent by Benjamin Joinau, interests me quite a bit:  Re: Antoine Coppola’s “Cine-voyage en Coree du Nord” L’Atelier des Cahiers [link] introduces its latest publication about the fascinating trip of French intellectuals to North Korea in 1958: Chris Marker, Claude Lanzmann, […]

JR’s China Soft Power Summary, July 2012

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China / Chinese communist party / Cultural Politics

This guest post comes to SinoMondiale via JustRecently.  It’s frequently hard to believe for a nationalist that his or her country may not project as much “soft power” abroad as it would deserve, in the nationalist’s view. Besides, the idea that the inconceivable should be seen as a fact may amount to an insult. But that doesn’t help the task of making China “going towards the world”. Two goals – a certain degree of knowledge about the outside world, […]

North Korean Opera in Chengdu

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Cultural Politics / North Korea / Sino-North Korean relations

Last night I attended the performance of “The Flower Girl” staged by the Pibada Ensemble from North Korea.  (They are better known as the Sea of Blood Opera Troupe.) I met the music director after the show, had some contact with KCNA staff, and am hoping to post a full review of the performance soon either here or at Some information about Flower Girl is here (including information of Kim Jong-il’s personal role in […]