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

Inter-Korean Sports Diplomacy: Comment in the Washington Post

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 … Continue reading Inter-Korean Sports Diplomacy: Comment in the Washington Post

New German Ambassador in Pyongyang

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 … Continue reading New German Ambassador in Pyongyang

Moranbong: Following French Intellectuals to North Korea in 1958

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 … Continue reading Moranbong: Following French Intellectuals to North Korea in 1958

JR’s China Soft Power Summary, July 2012

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 … Continue reading JR’s China Soft Power Summary, July 2012

North Korean Opera in Chengdu

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 SinoNK.com. Some information about Flower Girl … Continue reading North Korean Opera in Chengdu