“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

Poking the Wasp Nest: Shen Zhihua’s Controversial Speech on North Korea

Why should we care about scholars in China, or the complaints they have toward North Korea? Usually, readers take interest in Chinese scholarly debates because something specific and enticing has been translated into English implying that a Beijing policy shift toward North Korea may be in the offing.    Shen Zhihua’s March 2017 speech in Dalian became the latest in this periodic series of subterranean … Continue reading Poking the Wasp Nest: Shen Zhihua’s Controversial Speech on North Korea

Reading and Writing Chinese-North Korean Cold War History

Tian Wuxiong, a Ph.D. candidate in modern history at Peking University, has produced a nicely nuanced view of the withdrawal of the Chinese People’s Volunteers from the North. Tian has a good grasp of the Chinese historiography and produced a paper, entitled “Different Intentions with One Voice: The Making of Chinese Troops’ Withdrawal Package from the DPRK in 1958 / 同声异汽:中国1958年从朝鲜全部退军方案的形成” published by Harvard Working Paper series.  … Continue reading Reading and Writing Chinese-North Korean Cold War History

Recent Work on Sino-North Korean Relations, History, and Chinese Foreign Policy

The arbitrarily configured 70th anniversary of the Korean Workers’ Party, and the presence of a high-level Chinese delegation in Pyongyang, created a need for some commentary and context.  This post aggregates some of things I did in response to the event, and in the two months since the “August DMZ loudspeaker crisis” earlier this year. On October 10, I was quoted in the Washington Post, … Continue reading Recent Work on Sino-North Korean Relations, History, and Chinese Foreign Policy

Kim Jong-un: purges, paranoia, plots and the cancelled trip to Moscow

After months of public relations flirtation that led the world to believe that Kim Jong-un would be taking his first foreign trip as head of state to Moscow this month, North Korea has abruptly cancelled the voyage, according to a Russian diplomatic source. The news comes on the heels of South Korean intelligence reports of yet more purges in the upper echelons of the north, … Continue reading Kim Jong-un: purges, paranoia, plots and the cancelled trip to Moscow

Succession Politics and Commemorative Culture in North Korea: Seminar Paper at SOAS

On 14 November, I will be delivering the following paper at the SOAS Centre for Korean Studies as part of their seminar series. Succession Politics and Commemorative Culture in North Korea Abstract: In the Kim Jong-un era (December 2011-present), the North Korean state has made a series of moves to further augment and consolidate the ideological foundations of Kimism. Rather than using the emergence of … Continue reading Succession Politics and Commemorative Culture in North Korea: Seminar Paper at SOAS

Viewing the DPRK’s 66th Anniversary through a Chinese Lens

The realities of daily life in North Korea are, at best, elusive for the outsider to grasp. A lack of personal experiences often interfere. Those of us who have never known hunger or the terror of a certain knock on the door can read tales of depravation of food and basic personal rights only in shock. In today’s world beyond the DPRK, empathy (and its … Continue reading Viewing the DPRK’s 66th Anniversary through a Chinese Lens

Abusive Convenience: Chinese-North Korean Relations

In the lengthening aftermath of the Jang Song-taek execution, writers who are fond of metaphors for Chinese-North Korean relations can take heart. The bilateral relationship which had been “like lips and teeth” continues its transition into a new era, one of bleeding lips, or, as the historian Shen Zhihua puts it, a “marriage of convenience” experiencing serious discord. In order to properly review recent changes and … Continue reading Abusive Convenience: Chinese-North Korean Relations