North Korean Frontier Provinces are On Fire

Joshua Stanton at One Free Korea has been perusing satellite imagery again.  Normally this results in his steady and impressive posting of labor camps, as well as compounds and villas in the DPRK.  (For a fascinating interview with Stanton’s colleague in this pursuit, Curtis Melvin of NK Economy Watch blog, on the Rachel Maddow show, click here.)

But today Joshua hit upon something rather alarming: Large forest fires in North Hamgyong and Ryanggang provinces.

Via One Free Korea; click image for link
Via One Free Korea; click image for link

The image is actually from NASA and was taken on October 15; Curtis Melvin has rather rapidly but impressively done an overview of what is actually on fire.  In an earlier essay, the impressive John Feffer links global environmental catastrophe to the unpromising outlook on North Korea.

There is nothing up yet about this on the DailyNK’s Chinese page, but I will be monitoring the local Chinese websites in Yanbian for Chinese coverage of the story over the next 18 hours.

The areas on fire are already among the worst-afflicted provinces in the already beset state of North Korea.  However, it appears that the socialist-style “150-day struggle campaign” has had at least one positive effect in urban areas: goods in state-owned stores, according to a student in Chongjin, North Hamgyong’s big port city, where, it appears, the air is getting smoggy.  What the hell is going on in the interior?