[KS] Re-revised posting "Revoking a recommendation"

Sheila Miyoshi Jager sheila.jager at oberlin.edu
Wed Sep 28 08:41:44 EDT 2016

Dear KS Subscribers:

Below is an e-mail I received from Andre Lankov. He requested that I 
post this for him as he is not currently a KS subscriber.

Sheila Miyoshi Jager


Dear colleagues, the KS list members,

The situation with Dr. Armstrong’s book looks grimmer and grimmer
every day. As we all can see from the now easily available data, the
scale and character of the problems are far more serious than could be
expected before.

I checked more notes to the Soviet archival documents which are
present in the recently published table of problems, and, indeed, the
documents cited have no information which is mentioned in the book.

I will not bother you with too many facts, but will mention one. On
page 68, Dr. Armstrong cites a Soviet archival document which, as it
is implied, mentions Pyongyang City Rehabilitation Committee (PCRC),
teams of the Soviet technicians and Soviet Ambassador’s personal
involvement with the city reconstruction as well as Kim Il Song’s
chairmanship of the PCRC. Judging by the title (“Interview with
Pyongyang City Committee Vice-Chairman Comrade Kim Song-yong”), the
document in question, indeed, might deal with such matters, but
actually it does not: its main topic is the rules regarding the party
membership, and there are no references to any of the above mentioned

This is only one of many problems – and I’ve checked only part of the
problematic footnotes.

However, there is still some probability that we are dealing with a
chain of unintentional mistakes, and, frankly, remarkably shoddy
handling of primary sources, and not with a massive case of foot-mining
(or, likely, something far worse). The matter should be clarified. From 
where I sit,
it seems that the only way to resolve the mounting doubts is for
Dr. Armstrong to produce the archival documents he used in
writing the book – to be more precise, the documents which contain
information and data presented in the book’s text. If this can be done,
the sooner the better. Producing these documents will dispel most of the 
which are growing fast. But even if this is done, the mishandling of 
and/or sources on such scale needs some clarification, I presume.

Andre Lankov

On 9/27/2016 12:55 AM, Balazs Szalontai wrote:
> Dear Subscribers,
> Let me quote a few sentences from my latest post of 20 September 2016:
> “When Professor Armstrong contacted me privately on 17 September, I 
> asked him to send me a list of the inaccuracies he had identified. I 
> also asked him to scan the AVPRF documents cited in the section of pp. 
> 54-126. If I can see the cited documents, it will be easy to 
> reconstruct which ones contain information compatible with the 
> information provided in /Tyranny of the Weak/, and which ones do not. 
> On 17 September, Professor Armstrong expressed his readiness to start 
> preparing such a list of inaccuracies on 19 September. I welcomed his 
> decision. If I receive this list and the actual Russian documents, it 
> will be far easier for me to decide if this matter can be settled 
> privately or not.”
> So far I have not received such a list, or any scanned documents, or 
> further private messages, from Professor Armstrong. Hopefully they 
> will be provided later. In the meantime, let me provide some 
> additional information in a systematized form. As it was correctly 
> pointed out by a subscriber, it is more effective and less 
> disconcerting for readers to collect at least some of the currently 
> known cases of invalid source citations in a single downloadable table 
> than to post them one by one. This way the list would not be 
> overloaded by messages related to a single thread. The following 
> table, to which readers may get access by clicking on the links below, 
> is a longer and more detailed version of the list that Jiyul Kim 
> posted on H-Asia on September 20, 2016. It includes 33 cases of 
> invalid source citations in Charles K. Armstrong's "Tyranny of the 
> Weak," complete with detailed analysis of each case (which can be 
> opened by clicking on the links in the table, then clicking on the 
> second “floating” link that appears). It also includes a statement of 
> the problem and a call for further investigation.
> Balazs Szalontai
> https://docs.google.com/ spreadsheets/d/ 
> 1R28ryCj8CTlgLKJqIKLe26eFlSq5S eiPODtSQUyCTs8/edit?usp= sharing 
> <https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1R28ryCj8CTlgLKJqIKLe26eFlSq5SeiPODtSQUyCTs8/edit?usp=sharing>
> *LINK to PDF*
> https://drive.google.com/file/ d/ 0B2Ojwug7juTIdWh0ZDJWamtmZFk/ 
> view?usp=sharing 
> <https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B2Ojwug7juTIdWh0ZDJWamtmZFk/view?usp=sharing>
> Best regards,
> Balazs Szalontai
> Korea University

Sheila Miyoshi Jager
Professor of East Asian Studies
Oberlin College

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