Reflections on the History of Chinese-North Korean Relations, and US-DPRK Relations Today

Sometimes we need to modify the questions we ask. The question “Is the Chinese Communist Party going to cut off North Korea?” results in a fairly predictable string of analyses — usually adding up to an answer of “no.” Perhaps we might be better off by shifting perspectives, asking “To what extent does the regime in Pyongyang trust its counterpart in Beijing?” Such a question … Continue reading Reflections on the History of Chinese-North Korean Relations, and US-DPRK Relations Today

Comment on the North Korean Missile Launch

I was on BBC television this evening (via the Leeds studio) discussing the North Korean missile launch with Celia Hatton, who, fortunately for me and the BBC, is a veteran ‘China hand’ with years of experience in Beijing. Hatton is now a presenter in London, and she was kind enough to have a discussion with me about the relevant issues prior to going on the air, … Continue reading Comment on the North Korean Missile Launch

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

Carter in Pyongyang, Kim Jong Il in Changchun: Commentary

BEIJING — Jimmy Carter hardly rehabilitated the malevolent North Korean regime by showing up in Pyongyang, but the country’s communist leaders were undoubtedly glad to see him.  Kim Jong Il’s government is desperate to brandish success: it is nervously preparing for a Party Congress next month, an event where Kim Jong Eun, the youngest scion of Kim’s sprawling and polygamous family tree, will presumably be … Continue reading Carter in Pyongyang, Kim Jong Il in Changchun: Commentary

Death of Chang Song U / DPRK updates

Surprisingly, this story seems not yet to have been picked up by English-language media.  Chang Song U, the brother of Chang Song Taek and a higher-up in the DPRK bureaucracy, was reported on August 25 by KCNA to have died.  Kim Jong Il was said to be saddened; much more detail is available in Chinese. In the meantime, North Korean media is celebrating Youth Day, … Continue reading Death of Chang Song U / DPRK updates

Yonhap Reports: Bill Clinton to North Korea

Yonhap News Agency reports that Bill Clinton is heading to North Korea to negotiate release of two American journalists.  The White House has no comment for the moment.   KCNA’s (Korean Central News Agency) website is mute for the moment on the topic, but KCNA announced via radio that Clinton had arrived in Pyongyang.  Yesterday the North Korean news contained a short post calling for … Continue reading Yonhap Reports: Bill Clinton to North Korea

French Dispatches from Tokyo: Philippe Pons on North Korean Provocations

Why Read the European Press re: East Asia? A Justification I operate on assumptions that more sources, even flawed ones, are better than fewer.  (I also believe, unlike the classic example of Dick Cheney in 2002-03, that as we sift through these sources, it is important to let a thesis develop out of them rather than imposing one from above.)  Grabbing a wider net can … Continue reading French Dispatches from Tokyo: Philippe Pons on North Korean Provocations