US Korea Institute

Sunday December 4th 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 Politics Lesson (Part 2)

Inspector O and the Politics Lesson (Part 2)

“Church, you scoundrel!” The voice boomed across the bar. Each of the patrons had looked up and was staring at me, some annoyed, some bemused at the interruption to the normal solitary quiet of the place. I looked around. In a dark corner, standing and waving, was Inspector O. “My friend!” He beamed. As I walked up, he threw his [...]

From Pluto to Pyongyang, and Back

From Pluto to Pyongyang, and Back

(Photo: NASA) In 2006, Pluto was downgraded from a planet to a dwarf planet, failing to meet all the criteria of a (then) newly established definition of planet. These days, some should like to do the same with North Korea, another strange, cold and distant place.  Like Pluto, North Korea easily exhausts the quotient for weirdness in our [...]

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 [...]

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