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

Toward understanding North Korean state fears of Dandong

On March 26, the Korean Central News Agency reported at length on a truly remarkable press conference. I say “remarkable” because it dealt with a topic that, if even half of the allegations stated were true, contained more than a few bombshells about a cluster of sensitive subjects. This characterization of sensitivity holds — not only because Dandong is the key conduit for Chinese-North Korean trade — … Continue reading Toward understanding North Korean state fears of Dandong

Commentary in the Financial Times

I published a op-ed in the pages of the Financial Times in London on Friday, 19 December, entitled ‘For North Korea there is nothing comic about killing off Kim’: Hot-headed North Korean protests over disrespectful portrayals of their leaders are hardly a new phenomenon. In a world where even an online meme could be taken as a slight against its “supreme dignity”, even Pyongyang’s only formal ally, … Continue reading Commentary in the Financial Times

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

“Spit at the American Gentlemen” : North Korean State Media Rolls Out the Welcome Mat for Google

A short article released on January 10 in Pyongyang was fairly enervating, though no news media outlet seems to have picked it up yet. Nor, as Daniel Pinkston has pointed out already, has any Western media picked up on any of Pyongyang’s bellicose statements before, during, or after the Google visit. That’s an awfully odd way to report (or, more accurately, not report) on a country. Near the end … Continue reading “Spit at the American Gentlemen” : North Korean State Media Rolls Out the Welcome Mat for Google

Anti-Japanese Protests in Beijing, and the History of Diaoyu Protests

Three suitably breathless Global Times articles and photo galleries are linked below, but for a sane appraisal of at least part of what is going on, I recommend MIT professor M. Taylor Fravel’s September 15 article.  Respectively, the articles below deal with the protests in Beijing, Ferraris at the protests in Beijing, and the newly-publicized “40-year social movement” to protect Diaoyu/Senkakus with liberal borrowing from Taiwan’s … Continue reading Anti-Japanese Protests in Beijing, and the History of Diaoyu Protests

Inspector O is Not in the Office: Tracing a Traffic Accident Near Pyongyang

The story has made virtually no waves in English, Chinese, or Korean, but perhaps that is the point: On November 26, apparently within minutes of one another, two separate buses full of “a Chinese business delegation” and “a Chinese tourist group” crashed on an icy road 60 km from Pyongyang, killing six Chinese and two North Koreans. This according to the Chinese Embassy in Pyongyang, … Continue reading Inspector O is Not in the Office: Tracing a Traffic Accident Near Pyongyang

Democratic/Thought Reform in Tibet

Man liveth not by links alone, but I did want to make note that, as of Labor Day, this blog will very likely be turning its attentions with greater regularity toward the issue of Tibet and its historical relations with the (maternal and adoptive, or coercive and abusive? but unquestionably Chinese) motherland. These attentions will likely take the form of broader pedagogical inquiries, guest posts … Continue reading Democratic/Thought Reform in Tibet

Stories to Follow

I recommend you watch how these stories develop, since most of them have yet to be really reported in the Anglophone press: 1. Legacies of Japanese imperialism in Manchuria Chinese government organizations and affiliated NGOs are engaged in a struggle to get the old Unit 731 facility (the commemorative site for Japanese biological weapons research and atrocities outside of northeastern city of Harbin) listed as … Continue reading Stories to Follow

BW Use in the Korean War: Questioning the Record

Although Russian documents have allegedly put this controversy to rest, scholars and governments continue to probe at the question of communist allegations of American bacteriological weapons use in the Korean War.  Both North Korea and the PRC continue to maintain in their textbooks and war museums that the U.S. used bacteriological weapons (themselves originally developed by Japanese Unit 731 in Harbin in the 1930s) over … Continue reading BW Use in the Korean War: Questioning the Record