Bruce Cumings – USA

Linked with The Center for Korean Legal Studies.

He says: “With huge armies confronting each other, the logistics of actually ending the armistice are very difficult,” … and: “The North Koreans told (former South Korean President) Kim Dae-jung and Noh privately they would live with a situation where U.S. troops remain south of the DMZ,” Cumings said. The reason: The U.S. would offer a “balance” to the historic Chinese and Japanese influence over Korea … and: “Reunification is probably another 20 to 25 years away,” added Cumings. Both veteran analysts focused instead on what Cumings called the “unanticipated” substance of north-south economic deals announced last week: a joint fishing zone; a new joint industrial park in the north; joint shipbuilding; an agreement to ship southern rail freight through North Korea to China … (full text, Oct. 7, 2007).

“A better understanding of the origins of the Korean War”, argues Chicago historian Bruce Cumings, “may be the best way to prevent another, more dangerous conflict”. (full text, December 2003).


Bruce Cumings – USA

Audio: “Inventing the Axis of Evil, The Truth about North Korea, Iran, and Syria”, February 10, 2004.

… “Soon after the doctrine became public, a close adviser to (South Korean President) Roh Moo-hyun told Bush administration officials that if the U.S. attacked the North over South Korean objections, it would destroy the alliance with the South,” Cumings said.

“Leaders in Seoul repeatedly sought assurances from Washington that the North would not be attacked without close consultations or over Seoul’s veto,” he said, without naming who the involved officials were from the two countries.

“The Roh administration has not won these assurances.”
To restore trust and confidence between Seoul and Washington, the U.S. could take steps including normalization of relations with North Korea or guarantee Seoul that it will have a veto over the use of military force against Pyongyang, Cumings said … (full text, Oct. 17, 2007).

What we also tend to forget is that the United States and North Korea almost had an agreement concerning intercontinental missiles’ … (full text, July 7, 2006).

An audio: Diplomatic Rapprochement (Or Not), June 16, 2006.

… All of these were accomplished or being negotiated when Bush came into office. But the Clinton administration had also worked out a plan to buy out, indirectly, the North’s medium and long-range missiles; it was ready to be signed in 2000 but Bush let it fall by the wayside and today the North retains all its formidable missile capability. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was amazed in her memoirs that Bush let this deal slide into oblivion, since Pyongyang has no other reliable delivery capability for nuclear weapons. Hardly any influential Americans seem to remember these negotiations, although they were major news at the time … (full text, Oktober 8, 2007).

Bibliography to ‘Professor Bruce Cumings: Modern Korean History’, April 2005.

He writes: ‘Perestroika’ lamented that the cost to knowledge in the study of politics stood to be enormous in the sense of the fabled man with a hammer as his only tool treating everything as a nail, or seeing only hammers and nail-like items as worth knowing anything about. Disgruntlement with this dogma had been growing all along among other scholars, the sort who want to know their subjects well before playing reductionist games with them, and they were only awaiting a spark. So the email – likely inspired by the post-autistic economics movement in France – ignited a rousing scholarly movement in America.1 One could not hope to assemble a more unlikely band of insurrectionists, ranging from apprehensive grad students to greying professors ensconced in named chairs’ … (full text).

His publications: on amazon; on Barnes & Noble; on find articles; on The Nation/Archive; on New Left Review; on wikipedia; on Google’s scholar-search; on Google’s book-search; on Google’s blog-search.

He writes also: ‘For the North Koreans, only symbolism can fight symbolism. In the past, however, these symbolic conflicts have led to new negotiations.

Sound strange? Well, Pyongyang has operated this way before. Nothing was more provocative, after all, than North Korea’s decision to kick out United Nations inspectors and, in May 1994, withdraw enough plutonium from its reactor to make five or six atomic bombs. After putting the United States and North Korea on what seemed to be the road to war, the reactor crisis took the sort of bizarre turn one can expect from engagement with the North Koreans: Mid-crisis, Pyongyang agreed to a complete freeze on the reactor complex.

The framework agreement of October 1994 codified this, and for eight years — until it crumbled in the wake of the administration’s pre-emption doctrine and charges that a second nuclear program was up and running — the complex was sealed and immobilized with United Nations inspectors on the ground at all times.

Distinguished scholar Bruce Cumings receives important award from South Korea, May 24, 2007.

His book: A DIFFERENT HYMN SHEET, North Korea – Bruce Cumings also covers the class nature of North Korean society, the lack of democracy and the cult of personality around the leadership. I would have liked to see more detail on both the class divisions in North Korea and the nature of the political regime. Cumings is clearly writing from the assumption that he has to challenge the propaganda of the US right about the North. He is therefore careful to put this and the state of the economy in its historical context and to point out that it is not especially ‘evil’ when compared to other regimes the US supports. (full book review text, scroll down).

His profile: on Uni Chicago; on wikipedia.

We look at it and see ourselves, Dec. 15, 2006.

And he writes: ‘The United States, of course, never lies or violates anyone’s sovereignty. In 1957 the Eisenhower Administration deliberated secretly about how to become the first power to introduce nuclear weapons into the Korean peninsula even though the 1953 armistice agreement prohibited such a qualitative leap into weapons of mass destruction. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles worried that he would need “publishable evidence confirming Communist violations of the armistice sufficient to justify such action to our Allies and before the UN.” But it wasn’t there; the Communist side had introduced new weaponry but so had the United States, and neither constituted a radical upgrade of capabilities. Washington went ahead anyway, and from 1958 to 1991 maintained in the Korean theater hundreds of nuclear-tipped rockets, atomic gravity bombs, battlefield tactical nukes and atomic demolition mines. George Bush Senior removed them at the end of 1991 because he couldn’t pressure the North about its reactor until he did. But that didn’t end the nuclear threat’. (full text, Nov. 25, 2002).

Wrong Again, Bruce Cumings writes about US policy on North Korea, Oct. 31, 2003/published Dec. 4, 2003.

He says also: “I was born in Rochester, New York in 1943, but I left after six months because it was too cold and snowing all the time. (laughs) Actually, my father had gotten his Ph.D. in Germanics from the University of Chicago, and his first job was in Rochester. Thereafter, my family moved to Danville, Indiana and then to nearby Greencastle, Indiana where my father was dean of DePauw University, and that’s where I spent indergarten and first grade”. (full interview text).

The University of Chicago has praised Cumings work as “won the John King Fairbank Book Award of the American Historical Association, and the second volume of this study won the Quincy Wright Book Award of the International Studies Association”.


Major Trends of Korean Historiography in the US, by Michael D. Shin, Aug. 15, 2007;
Pariah lies, by Paul Hollander, Febr. 9, 2004;

Mother of All Mothers, by B. R. Myers, Sept. 2004;

Critique of Anti-Americanism in Bruce Cumings, “Korea’s Place in the Sun”, Febr. 25, 1997;


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