“The Enemies Made this Possible”: Sino-North Korean Relations after 1948

Adrian Buzo will be publishing a large Routledge Handbook on North Korea  (which I believe is slated to be published in 2021) and asked me to contribute a chapter. I asked my PhD student Yujin Lim to co-author this piece and fortunately she agreed, since she has been working in North Korean materials available in Seoul and recently published an impressive article on the geometry … Continue reading “The Enemies Made this Possible”: Sino-North Korean Relations after 1948

Writings and Media Work: July 2017

For whatever reason, July has been a particularly active month in the various cockpits where I do my work — coffee shops, trains rocketing between Leeds and London, my university office, and British libraries — and consequently a few things have actually gotten finished. Some of the work that follows is purely opportunistic, but at least a portion of it reflects more deeply on my … Continue reading Writings and Media Work: July 2017

North Korea and Border Crossings in Northeast Asia

On 17 February, I will be lecturing at the Irish Institute for Korean Studies at University College Cork, a dynamic university in the revolutionary heartland of the Republic of Ireland. The title of the lecture is ‘North Korea and Border Crossings in Northeast Asia.’ The lecture series is sponsored by the One Asia Foundation, and includes a number of notables in the field, including James Lewis … Continue reading North Korea and Border Crossings in Northeast Asia

Border Consolidation in Liaoning: From Chen Yun to Xi Jinping

For presentation at Leiden University lecture series “Borders: Life on the Edge of Area Studies“, 28 February 2017: For the Chinese Communist Party, the northeastern province of Liaoning today inhabits an odd position on the “One Belt, One Road” strategic line. Stuck with a recalcitrant North Korean neighbour, the CCP is endeavouring to revive the regional economy by reaching beyond various fundamental North Korean blockages … Continue reading Border Consolidation in Liaoning: From Chen Yun to Xi Jinping

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 the disbandment of the DPRK’s Unhasu Orchestra and the reported death of several of its members

With respect to the matter of the Unhasu Orchestra “executions” which has been bubbling about since late August 2013, augmented by  JoongAng Ilbo reports of “stadium executions” in Wonsan in November 2013, and raised again with reports of grizzly executions of yet more musicians in spring 2015: Obviously, none of us is in possession of anything resembling a conclusive data point which would prove or … Continue reading On the disbandment of the DPRK’s Unhasu Orchestra and the reported death of several of its members

North Korean Purges and Scuttlebutt

A few days after publishing a 2500-word analysis of the Hyon Yong-chol purge aftermath (an abbreviated version of which was published by the Guardian), I spoke with Steve Miller of the Asia News Weekly podcast about a number of issues relating to North Korea and the situation in northeast Asia. A sound & video recording of our conversation, along with some prefatory text, is available here. Continue reading North Korean Purges and Scuttlebutt

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

The Interview: A Rare Glimpse into the Alternate Reality of CNN in North Korea

CNN’s Will Ripley was recently summoned to Pyongyang, coinciding nicely with North Korea’s announcement that the country had placed yet another American wanderer in custody for crossing the border illegally. Apart from a short interview with the young sufferer (he has been diagnosed with an extreme condition of “North Korean ennui”), Ripley was given access to a real live North Korean official, who delivered the … Continue reading The Interview: A Rare Glimpse into the Alternate Reality of CNN in North Korea