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

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

Contentious Politics on the Korean Peninsula: Workshop at the University of Toronto

In 2013-14, I was awarded a research grant by the Academy of Korean Studies for which I was the principle investigator, and was joined by two colleagues from the Sino-NK research cluster. Having traveled twice to Korea and northeast China thanks to the grant, and having gone through the various layers of grant reporting, the fun part is now happening: The publication of research results and the … Continue reading Contentious Politics on the Korean Peninsula: Workshop at the University of Toronto

Footsteps: Kim Jong-un and the Possibility of Indonesia in April 2015

Picking up on South Korean government sources, the Huanqiu Shibao (Global Times) in Beijing reports that Kim Jong-un may be taking his first foreign trip as head of state this coming April.  More information about the conference, which in part appears to be anniversary celebration of the famous Bandung Conference of 1955, is here (in English), and a reasonably decent breakdown of the story (also in … Continue reading Footsteps: Kim Jong-un and the Possibility of Indonesia in April 2015

What does Kim Jong-un think of ‘The Interview’? Ask the NDC

Kim Jong-un is the head of the National Defence Commission (NDC), which is functionally the top organ of state power in North Korea (the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea). While no small debate exists about how skillful the young Kim Jong-un is as a bureaucrat, the extent to which he is operating under the influence of senior advisors, etc., there is no doubt that documents issued … Continue reading What does Kim Jong-un think of ‘The Interview’? Ask the NDC

Distant Proximity: China and the North Korean Human Rights Catastrophe

Beijing is a long way from North Korea.  Border crossing points between China and the DPRK remain open, but the potentially fastest and ‘game-changing’ of these is blocked at present, clogged up with estuary mud and the slow hatreds of bureaucratic inaction. Chinese trains that blaze up and down the northeast have yet to reach the North Korean frontier. But when they do arrive, panting … Continue reading Distant Proximity: China and the North Korean Human Rights Catastrophe

On Today’s UN General Assembly Discussion: China-DPRK Notes

The arrival of this resolution, which is being voted on today in New York, should come as no surprise to the North Korean government. The language being considered for General Assembly adoption mirrors language which the Human Rights Council has been advocating for the last couple of years. Recently lobbying in Europe, and via North Korea’s Cold War ally Cuba, has not succeeded in watering down the … Continue reading On Today’s UN General Assembly Discussion: China-DPRK Notes

Toward a Transnational History of Manchuria and the Korean War [Updated]

In November 2014, I presented ‘Toward a Transnational History of Manchuria and the Korean War, 1945-1955’ at the Institute of Historical Research, as part of the Comparative Histories of Asia seminar series at the University of London Senate House at 5:30 p.m. GMT. Audio of the event is available; the formal speech starts at about the sixth minute. here:  OUTLINE I. Assessing the past 25 years of … Continue reading Toward a Transnational History of Manchuria and the Korean War [Updated]

Kim Jong-un’s Cane and the Manchurian Guerrilla Faction: BBC Interview

In the pre-history and contemporary history of both the People’s Republic of China and its North Korean counterpart, purges have been a regular — if unpredictably appearing — phenomenon. Kim Il-sung’s purge of his wartime Foreign Minister Pak Han-yong in 1953 was followed shortly thereafter by a Maoist purge of Gao Gang, the very individual through whom so much Chinese aid flowed via Manchuria, in 1954. … Continue reading Kim Jong-un’s Cane and the Manchurian Guerrilla Faction: BBC Interview

North Korea Misinformation Bingo

When it comes to North Korea, there are an awful lot of hypotheses floating about the information spectrum these days. Whether or not these all have been encouraged, tacitly or otherwise, by the South Korean state (undercutting Kimist legitimacy) or by the North Korean state (as a means of changing the subject from, say, human rights abuses), or are mainly driven by cutthroat competition in … Continue reading North Korea Misinformation Bingo