Media Blackout in Beijing: Reading the Empty Spaces during the Kim Jong-un Visit

Among the dozens of subplots feeding into and out of the curious-but-necessary welcome by Xi Jinping of Kim Jong-un this week is the question of information access and what it means or doesn’t mean about the robustness of the overall Chinese-North Korean relationship. I put together a few preliminary thoughts on this for an outlet based in Seoul, and link and some shorter excerpts of … Continue reading Media Blackout in Beijing: Reading the Empty Spaces during the Kim Jong-un Visit

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

Putting a Price Tag on North Korea’s October 10 Celebrations

I don’t doubt there is an abundance of potential fury in North Korea’s provinces, but it does seem odd that a single parade, fireworks display, and associated banquets and pageantry would eat up an amount equivalent roughly equivalent to 7% of the country’s GDP (source: CIA World Factbook, 2013 GDP est. at 28 billion). While Pyongyang remains the inevitable epicentre of state expenditure and ostentatious display, the … Continue reading Putting a Price Tag on North Korea’s October 10 Celebrations

On Kim Jong-un’s ‘Achievements’ and the North Korean-Chinese Relationship

This past December, many observers of the scene in northeast Asia had questions about the ‘three-year mourning period’ which was coming to an end, ostensibly, in North Korea. Since Kim Jong-il had been continuously eulogized and memorialized since his death, questions were being raised about Kim Jong-un possibly being seen as lacking in respect for his father. There were also questions about a possible change … Continue reading On Kim Jong-un’s ‘Achievements’ and the North Korean-Chinese Relationship

Recent Writings and Commentary on North Korea

Essays ‘Purges, Baekdu, and the Moranbong Band: Data Points around General Hyon,’ Sino-NK, 16 May 2015  ‘Kim Jong-un’s vulnerability on display as North Korean rumours abound,’ The Guardian, 15 May 2015  ‘Satellites and State Media: Breaking Down Recent Execution Rumors,’ Sino-NK, 4 May 2015.  ‘Kim Jong-un: purges, paranoia, plots and the beloved leader’s cancelled trip to Moscow,’ The Conversation, 1 May 2015  Media Comment   Continue reading Recent Writings and Commentary on North Korea

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