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

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