Poking the Wasp Nest: Shen Zhihua’s Controversial Speech on North Korea

Why should we care about scholars in China, or the complaints they have toward North Korea? Usually, readers take interest in Chinese scholarly debates because something specific and enticing has been translated into English implying that a Beijing policy shift toward North Korea may be in the offing.    Shen Zhihua’s March 2017 speech in Dalian became the latest in this periodic series of subterranean … Continue reading Poking the Wasp Nest: Shen Zhihua’s Controversial Speech on North Korea

American Weimar: On Hitler, Obama, and BR Myers’ Diminution of Juche

This essay was written in Seattle in October 2011. Today I spent some time leafing through a solemn black notebook filled with sketches made primarily in the stacks at the University of Washington Suzzalo Library, reminding myself that not all good research is immediately digitized. Sometimes it takes a few months before a certain concept can swim down to the bottom of one’s consciousness and take … Continue reading American Weimar: On Hitler, Obama, and BR Myers’ Diminution of Juche

Notes on the Sinchon Massacre

The death of North Korean civilians at Sinchon is significant on a few levels. On the one hand, it calls our attention to the always fractious topic of war crimes in Korea, and the contested nature of the memory of those crimes. On the other hand, the Sinchon massacre has underpinned a great deal of anti-U.S. propaganda in the DPRK and today remains a touchstone … Continue reading Notes on the Sinchon Massacre

Ideology and Anti-Factionalism: A Survey of North Korean Workers’ Party Publishing Output in 1958

In May 2010, the US Central Intelligence Agency released a file which it had had in its files for many decades: Korean Books (in Korean), No. 1, Catalogue of Books by Korean Worker’s Party Publishing House.  While in most other contexts such a text would be open-source, finding the book (along with a hell of a lot of extremely interesting materials) during today’s foray into the … Continue reading Ideology and Anti-Factionalism: A Survey of North Korean Workers’ Party Publishing Output in 1958

Does North Korea Have Two Rulers? Visions of the Female General

In a Reuters dispatch published today, James Pearson uses multiple perspectives to reflect on Kim Jong-un’s 8 January birthday in North Korea. In the end, it appears that the ostensible 32nd birthday of the young ruler was not marked by a major state propaganda push, nor did North Korean workers even get the day off.  Indeed, there were no huge parades held, nor even any new songs … Continue reading Does North Korea Have Two Rulers? Visions of the Female General

Commentary in the Financial Times

I published a op-ed in the pages of the Financial Times in London on Friday, 19 December, entitled ‘For North Korea there is nothing comic about killing off Kim’: Hot-headed North Korean protests over disrespectful portrayals of their leaders are hardly a new phenomenon. In a world where even an online meme could be taken as a slight against its “supreme dignity”, even Pyongyang’s only formal ally, … Continue reading Commentary in the Financial Times

Events in Pyongyang

Yesterday the Korean Workers’ Party in Pyongyang celebrated its 65th anniversary with an immense parade that included an appearance by the new big man on campus and the putative successor, Kim Jong-Un. The festivities are covered here with some nice photos from the left-wing Paris paper Liberation (via Yonhap), and the Huanqiu Shibao carries a handful of photos from Xinhua’s photographer in Pyongyang. Huanqiu Shibao … Continue reading Events in Pyongyang