US Korea Institute

Thursday September 29th 2016
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James Church

Drawing on his experience as a veteran intelligence operative, this well-known author is also an astute expert on the North.

Inspector O and the South China Sea

Inspector O and the South China Sea

“I imagine your knuckles would be dead white at this point, Church.” Inspector O had messaged me in the usual way to meet him in Malta. He’d given the address of a hotel restaurant atop a hill overlooking Mdina. I arrived late—bad connections in London—but O didn’t seem to notice. He was gazing contemplatively out the window at the [...]

Inspector O and the River of Death

Inspector O and the River of Death

“I’m surprised.” Inspector O looked up from his newspaper. “Your hair isn’t even mussed.” He made it sound like an indictment. I stood in for a moment wondering what this might portend before sitting down on the bench. The park was deserted. “It says here,” O pointed to an article on an inside page, “that you have been [...]

Inspector O Gets the Shpilkes

Inspector O Gets the Shpilkes

“You’re fired.” Inspector O pointed his finger at me over the remains of our meal, an early dinner of nameless fish, sautéed carrots and a nearly empty bottle of nondescript wine. “How so?” I asked. “You know perfectly well that I’m not paid, I’ve signed no contract, we have no verbal understanding or even a framework [...]

The Politics Lesson

The Politics Lesson

“This is urgent.” Inspector O was pacing the floor. He hadn’t shaved in a while, and it didn’t look as if he’d had much sleep. “Urgent, everything is always urgent with you.” I was annoyed. Phone calls at two in the morning do not sit well with me. “You couldn’t have waited a few more hours? I need the rest. And you could use [...]

The 50-Year Rule

The 50-Year Rule

“Inspector! Long time no see!” I spotted Inspector O in the corner of the café where his cryptic message had said we should meet. He sat at a small table covered with papers, hemmed in by books piled on the floor next to his chair. “Shall we move to something in the sun? It’s a beautiful day.” “Never mind the sun, Church. Sit if [...]

“Inspector O Wins at Chess”

“Inspector O Wins at Chess”

“I’ve been dealing from half a deck,” I said. Inspector O looked up for a moment, and then returned to his close study of the chessboard in front of him. “You’re telling me?” “No, I mean, I’ve been trying to figure out what was in your leader’s New Year’s address, and it was pretty frustrating because for most of the day [...]

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Credit for photo of young North Korean girl: T.M. All rights reserved, used with permission.