Ironies of history captured in photo

The above picture shows the delegation of the Dutch prime minister, who is currently on a trade mission in Indonesia, meeting with their Indonesia hosts inside the Presidential Palace in Jakarta. The irony here is that Merdeka Palace—named after the slogan of the Indonesia struggle for independence, ‘freedom’—was built as Paleis Koningsplein, the residence of […]

Speak out against trivialisation of the North Korean issue

Today an issue played regarding a September publication in fashion magazine Elle that listed ‘North Korean Chic’ as a top fashion trend for this autumn. Small as this slight may seem, it is a good example of trivialisation that happens with regard to the North Korean issue. Look at those silly North Koreans in their retro […]

Dickinson on forcing democracy

‘But what proud nation will accept democracy as a gift from insolent conquerors? One thing that the war has done, and one of the worst, is to make of the Kaiser, to every German, a symbol of their national unity and national force. Just because we abuse their militarism, they affirm and acclaim it; just […]

Hedley Bull’s downside of nuclear deterrence: not so stable after all

Students of International Relations are probably familiar with the concept of nuclear deterrence so loved by especially neorealism. Simply put, the utter and complete destruction that today’s nuclear weapons are capable of, combined with second-strike capabilities, they say, create stability in the international system. Because attacking a nuclear power is too costly, no state will […]

Ue o muite arukou or Sukiyaki – the saccharine Japanese song with protest roots

Above is the sweet Japanese song 上を向いて歩こう (Ue o Muite Arukō) with its characteristic whistling. Known in the West under the virtually meaningless name ‘Sukiyaki’, this is the most famous version, sung by Kyu Sakamoto in 1961. The song was written by Ei Rokusuke. When you read the lyrics, you see the text of saccharine […]

White People Slap: unconscious discrimination

Ever since I’ve returned from China, I have been itching to leave again and go to any of the big three countries in East-Asia, be it Korea, Japan or China. It has also made me think about the views I hold and the way I perceive the world. You see, I come from a small […]

Haunting documentary on North Korean camps: ‘Camp 14: Total Control Zone’

It might ruin your day, watching this documentary. But I think that you should nevertheless. It tells the story of Shin Dong-hyuk, a North Korean who was born inside concentration camp 14. His father had gotten his mother as reward for good labour. Interviewing Shin and two former guards who defected to the South, the […]

Laatste bericht uit China

Na iets meer dan zes weken in Hangzhou is het nu tijd om weer terug te gaan naar Nederland. Met veel moeite heb ik mijn spullen in de koffer weten te proppen en mijn kamer is inmiddels aan kant. Nu rest enkel nog het afscheid vanavond, waarna ik morgen vroeg op de bus naar het […]

Shanghai en de laatste week is begonnen

Nu mijn vertrek steeds naderbij komt, is het geruststellend om alvast even kennis gemaakt te hebben met de betrouwbaarheid van het openbare vervoer tussen Hangzhou en Shanghai. Over minder dan een week zal ik er (voorlopig) voor de laatste keer gebruik van maken als ik naar huis ga. Maar eerst nog de laatste drie lessen […]

De laatste twee weken gaan in

Het is inmiddels al meer dan vier weken geleden dat ik voor het eerst aankwam in Hangzhou. Toen ik uit de lange-afstandsbus stapte, was de stad nog onbekend terrein voor mij. Nadat ik een kaart had gevraagd bij een touristeninformatieloket, kon ik beginnen te kijken waar precies in de stad ik me bevond. Toen duurde […]