Notes on North Korean Musical Exchanges and Internal Narratives

A lot of people seem to be interested in North Korean cultural diplomacy these days, so the (often peer-reviewed/probably badly flawed/usually enormously fun) work which I have been doing on this issue for the last decade has allowed me to say a few not completely ignorant things about it for a wider public. [Updated 6 April 2018:] This morning I spoke about it with Canada’s … Continue reading Notes on North Korean Musical Exchanges and Internal Narratives

Notes on the Music Scene in Pyongyang

I was in North Korea for several days in the middle of March 2016. While my main purpose was to visit the Sinchon Massacre Museum for a Korean War research project in which I am engaged, I was also quite interested in the performing arts and arts scenes, since those are areas which are relatively more permeable to foreign researchers and ones in which the … Continue reading Notes on the Music Scene in Pyongyang

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

Comment on Haggard: The North Korean Restaurant Franchise

Stephan Haggard is an endless source of extreme quantities of highly enriched North Korea information. His ‘blog’ posts (which are usually more like mini-journal articles, trenchantly done but lighter and more fluent in style)  at Witness to Transformation place him at the prow of a mighty and miraculously regular enterprise, so it’s only courteous to add data in the form of a comment if you’ve … Continue reading Comment on Haggard: The North Korean Restaurant Franchise

Microreads, Macrothemes, Memes

This past week conspired to make microblogging the internet attack of choice, and this week seems contrived to have the same effect.  If you want to keep up with my tiny blasts of analysis and reading on China and North Korea this week, my Twitter feed is the place to go. I’m in Minneapolis/St. Paul for a weekend of Asia-Himalayan scholarship, presenting a paper on … Continue reading Microreads, Macrothemes, Memes

North Korean Metaphor War: Whether Adrift or Storming Forward in the Post-Cold War Epoch, the DPRK Remains Not So Much an Enigma as a Deep Cultural Bunker Into Which One, Generally Speaking, Can Only Enter By Pounding on a Piano

If I had a nickel for everytime I read the words “according to Kim Jong Il’s former Japanese chef” I could buy enough rice to feed entire boatloads of squid fishermen in the sea whose name was called Korea by an Italian in Mongolia in the 1250s. Which is to say that the repetition of data, after certain repetitions, becomes not data at all, but … Continue reading North Korean Metaphor War: Whether Adrift or Storming Forward in the Post-Cold War Epoch, the DPRK Remains Not So Much an Enigma as a Deep Cultural Bunker Into Which One, Generally Speaking, Can Only Enter By Pounding on a Piano

Hiatus//Documentary Smorgasbord//Steven Chu for President in 2016

I’m on the two-day cusp of departing from Taipei for the beautiful work that awaits in Seattle, and am thus taking my annual last-week-of-July blogging vacation.  I would, in the meantime, like to recommend several fascinating sources for your delectation, enjoyment, and edification. Don’t miss: * C-Span’s panel discussions on the origins of the Korean War (particularly the remarks by the guest from London, and … Continue reading Hiatus//Documentary Smorgasbord//Steven Chu for President in 2016