North Korea’s World Cup: German-Language Resources

German views of Korea are always worth a listen, and will be for the foreseeable future.  After all, Germany knows all about national division and dealing with communist legacies, and a thing or two about Marxism and dictatorship as well.  And, for a country with less than one-third the population of the United States, Germany has got a press to die for.  That is, the German press is simply protean, and in its coverage of the World Cup, even more aggressive and prolix than usual.

Rather than translating a bunch of excerpts, I’ll let your fingers do the walking over a series of articles and resources that I think are particularly good:

Christof Biermann’s article on the business aspect of the DPRK squad, and about the 62-year old Swiss capitalist who has purchased the transfer rights of North Korea’s best players;

Lars Langenau’s “Arbeitsnest der Kommunisten” contains a piquant analysis of the North Korean national anthem at the Cup;

A short video gives some footage of the team and at the end describes the three squad players who are contracted, respectively, to two Japanese clubs [insane pic here] and a Russian team;

Analysis of the actual game, and of this most curious surrender by Julio Cesar, via Sueddeutscher Zeitung

Javier Cáceres’ “Kim ist nicht gleich Kim,” a short but most insightful article into the connection between football and the North Korean dictatorship;

Standout veteran Asia reporter Heinrik Bork’s article on the North Korean superstar,  Jong Tae Se, entitled “Für Diktator und Vaterland,” whose title I think you can figure out;

and Bernhard Bratsch’s “Imagepolitik” article on the optics of the North Korean team.

Holger Gertz published a fantastic article on 18 June 2010 dissecting the North Korean press conference; it’s not available online but I at one time had a paper copy in my hands (as you can imagine, I am swimming joyously in much print material while in this printer’s paradise of Berlin, die ein verlaghimmlischer Stadt sind) am endeavoring to find another copy as I learned an number of exciting new vocabulary words from it such as:

die Aufstellung — the lineup — 提名 — as in, “Is it true that Kim Jong Il sets the team’s lineup?”

klopfen — to tap– 拍打 — as in, “The FIFA representative nervously taps his finger on the table”

staendig — long-standing — 常设的 –

kleben — to stick, affix – 粘贴 –

and let’s not forget the description of Jang Sae Te as having a “Nussenkrackerkiefer” which means a “Nutcrackerjaw” — 核桃夹颌

Finally, there’s an old but solid article about market activity taking place in spite of the regime, with some interest in the mobile phone users in the northern border areas of the DPRK, by Wolfgang Leuf.

As a side note, having finally spent some time in London and chatted up one of its finest crafters of op-ed (that being Martin Jacques), I would wish to remind readers that the Guardian’s China page is among the best in the business, and worth bookmarking.

Schriftsteller in Abattoir

The day is beginning in Berlin, and there is much to do: data to smash, thoughts to let float, writing to be combed through like twigs on a forest floor.  I thought I might make list and therefore represent the summery burdens which are, at times, light, and, at other times, groaning with incontestable weight.  The present projects in progress, die Werke im Aufbau!  I should prefer to see them finished:

Little Dish A: Book review re: Classical Music in 1930s Berlin [2,000 words]

Little Dish B: Book review re: Sino-Korean relations [1,500 words]

Side Salad: Final edits to my accepted Korean Studies manuscript on Yanbian Koreans, 1945-1950 [12,152 words]

That’s all good, and tricky enough to at least feed my illusion of being mentally nimble, but then more arrives on the table…

courtesy Dublin Creative Writing blog

Heavy Soup 1: Iris Chang / Rape of Nanking article [1,500 words short of 3,500 word target]

Heavy Soup 2: Simone de Beauvoir manuscript [10,407 words]

And that would really be enough, but then

Into the Abbatoir: Book manuscript B [48,075 words, only 80,000 to go!!]

And after all that, we get to manage all the new information coming in, and it is indeed worthy!

Cleanup: Compiling notes from the past week’s sallies into the Bundesarchiv in Berlin.

Such things tend to look like this:

Otto Grotewohl, Wilhelm Pieck, and Johannes Dieckmann to Mao Zedong, Liu Shaoqi, and Zhou Enlai, “Congratuations on the Occasion of the Sixth Anniversary of the PRC,” October 1, 1956, in Stiftung Archiv der Parteien und Massenorganisationen der DDR im Bundesarchiv [SAMPO], DY 27 (Kulturbund, Bundessekretariat), Folder 15866.

The document describes East German support for China’s “Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence” put forward by Zhou Enlai and notes that those principles were “zu denen sich auch die Deutschen Demokratischen Republik rückhaltslos bekennt, finden bei den Völkern der Welt immer mehr anerkennung und tragen endschedend bei zur Entspannung in den internationalen Beziehungen.”

Add about three hundred of these summary/citations or what ought to be several pages of single-spaced analysis of much richer, less formulistic documents (such as the debate over how to portray the violent repression [with 55 deaths] of the 17. June 1953 demonstrations to the world), and you get an idea of what a data schlump an archives visit represents.  The challenge, as ever, is to find relatively rapid outlets for one’s research so that it doesn’t end up merely squatting on one’s hard drive or dying a cold death in a clump of neglected photocopies or scans in the rhetorical freezer.

*    *    *

At this point, all the above represents is activity, much in the way that a hamster on a wheel is active.  Therefore what is needed to today is to actually stellen die verdammte Schriften [release the damned writings], sending them over the edge.  The process, at its end, should resemble a man standing calmly and dropping raw fruit into a blender — with purposeful ease, followed by a twinge of pressure, and an unmistakable result whose swift consumption is no detriment to its nourishment of the organism.  It’s all just biodegradable brain food for our regeneration out of this sad little epoch.

And then avant!  In any case we’ll see how this all goes.  I’d hate to see a slackening in my scholarly statistics in the autumn; the Words Published on Paper Per Day average (.wpppd) really musn’t go below 300!

Burning about North Korea: Chinese Netizens


and other such comments on the news that North Korea would pay $3000 USD to each of the families of the killed and wounded people in the June 4 border shootings.

For more extensive commentary from the Chinese press, see this entry entitled “Borderline Banditry”; the comments section there is also full of juicy links.

Rather than extensive commentary here (although it’s certainly deserving), I’ll just Tweet the links forthwith.

June 18: Celebrating Charles de Gaulle


Who cares that the French (“les bleus”) are a stagnant Fussballmannschaft who is on the verge of being bounced from World Cup play?

Because tomorrow in Europe begins today: it is the seventieth anniversary of General Charles de Gaulle’s announcement of “la Resistance” from a radio booth in London.  Which means that French President Nicholas Sarkozy will be — where else? — in London, with a Gaullist book between his hands, to commemorate. In short, he has not been able to say “Enough with the De Gaulle!”

I’ve been sparring with this man (de Gaulle that is, but also his inheritor Sarkozy) in a renewed and highly sporadic fashion for about the past year and a half, but this article in Liberation encapsulated the meaning of the man, for me anyway, in the most beautiful fashion:

Alain Dudmel, “Que reste-t-il du gaullisme aujourd’hui? [What Remains of Gaullism Today?,] Liberation, Paris, June 17, 2010, p. 17.

[translation by Adam Cathcart]

The [French] President Nicholas Sarkozy will be in London tomorrow to commemorate the appeal of 18 June 1940.  The seventieth anniversary becomes an occasion for a national consensus and, also, an edifying retrospective.  If today nearly all the French give their admiration to the rebellious general who saved the day and the honour of the tricolor French flag, at the time, things were different.  Between the wrecked military [naufrage militare/ 功败垂成的士兵], the perilous exodus, and the crushed politics [effondrement politique / 崩溃政治情况] , most French people regarded Marshal Petain as the supreme savior.  The shield with seven stars eclipsed the lone sword [Le bouclier (盾)aux sept etoiles eclipsait le glaive (关刀) solitaire.]

l'appel dans la nuit, via Le Figaro

Since then, the legitimacy of Gaullism has justly erased the legality of Petainism.  The Gaullism in London has easily [haut la main] won the battle of history.  The man of June 18 remains, for eternity, the most glorious Frenchman of the 20th century.

But is that to say that Gaullism was itself also fated to expire in its time?  In fact it is an entirely different affair.  The Gaullism surely triumphed in the war, thanks to Free France, thanks to the Resistance, thanks to the sovereignty regained after the Liberation.  And afterwards we cannot forget how less than two years after the apotheosis of his decent down the Champs-Elysees, the General DeGaulle would abandon power.  (The right to ingratitude is the priviledge of democracy.)

After this we could not omit his adventure with the RPF, irresistable in 1947 but miserable (déconfit/难为情)  in 1952 .  Partisan Gaullism was hoisted on the petard of its originator.  Then there remains the institutionalized Gaullism of the Fifth Republic.   Towards this, it is natural that we should withhold a response.  But is the Gaullism of the war destined to always be unforgettable?

The author then goes into a discourse on how French government was deeply impacted by Gaullism, but how society has moved well beyond its conservative mores.

This translation has been brought to you by the Lycee Francais Charles de Gaulle in South Kensington!

All the Parisians in Berlin are allegedly dejected, but they still seem to be loving life.  I knew there was a reason that my bicycle mantra for the day has been “Viva les Allemandes francophone.”

A Little Huanqiu Nationalism

If the above link to a gallery of Chinese volunteers in Vietnam [浴血南疆对越自卫反击战 ] fails to satisfy, be sure not to miss some obligatory Xinhua praise of the Boxer Movement [义和团运动 ] as “a patriotic, anti-imperialist movement of farmers in North China” or an extensive reminder in this scintillating lead from  “战后日本 关于民间“认罪”的不完全记录 [ Postwar Japan's Record Regarding Collective 'Guilt' is Not Complete]“:


Nothing like a little nationalist orthodoxy to act as an astringent for the day.  Or perhaps the Huanqiu scribes and editors, like many journalists, are under pressure to just fill space and back up the bulwarks with such stories.