Notes on Kim Ki-nam, and on North Korean Cultural Production

The Chosun Ilbo carries the news that Kim Ki-nam, head of North Korea’s Ministry of Propaganda and one of the few remaining members of the famous funeral cortege of December 2011, has finally stepped down from his post.  I previously analyzed the possibility of Kim Ki-nam’s retirement, and his place in the North Korean system, in this June 2014 article on musical propaganda. Earlier in spring 2013, I … Continue reading Notes on Kim Ki-nam, and on North Korean Cultural Production

New Allegations of a Chinese Link to the Jang Song-taek Purge & Execution

According to what would appear to have to be a very high source cultivated by New Focus International, sometime in early 2013 (i.e., in the aftermath of the satellite launch, or maybe the 3rd nuclear test) Jang Song-taek wrote “the Chinese leadership” a letter explaining he wanted to reform North Korea’s economy and rebalance the DPRK’s locus of power away from the Party and into … Continue reading New Allegations of a Chinese Link to the Jang Song-taek Purge & Execution

Kim Ki-nam and North Korea’s Orchestral Politics

Kim Jong Eun commands attention for obvious reasons. His charismatic heft, however, also manages to obscure a number of the other personalities at the apex of North Korean politics who arguably do more to make the whole system run. Within this group there are a small handful of individuals who deserve a great deal more critical attention, and none more so than Kim Ki Nam. … Continue reading Kim Ki-nam and North Korea’s Orchestral Politics

Pyongyang Machiavelli: All of Kim’s Men

[This essay was originally published at The Diplomat on April 17, 2013.] The man at the helm in North Korea today is an accident of history, surrounded by vestigial assertions of narcissistic genius that are de rigueur for North Korea’s depiction of its own leaders. More than any time since the young Kim Il-song was surrounded by Soviet generals in the 1940s, the North Korean leader … Continue reading Pyongyang Machiavelli: All of Kim’s Men