Releasing Robert, and Economic Development in Tumen

One Free Korea, channeling Reuters and a fascinating KCNA-published “confession” of the border-hopping misssionary, reports that Robert Park will be released from captivity in North Korea.

Meanwhile, Chinese media outlets have yet to pick up the story, but might do so eventually.  Given their druthers, the Chinese would rather not give mainland readers the idea that foreigners are running willy-nilly in the Northeast, as the CCP would rather itself control the pace and tone of discussions around the more general issues of refugees and human rights in North Korea that the Park case exposes.

Instead, the CCP media is trumpeting recent meetings for economic cooperation in Changchun.  Jilin province, the major bordering body along the North Korean frontier, is in the midst of a major push to attract more foreign investment.  As we can learn from the process that led to PRC recognition of South Korea in 1992, provincial pressures should never be minimized when understanding Chinese policy toward the Koreas.  Jilin cadre desperately want to see North Korean economic ties with their province, and have a further interest in economic integration of the Koreas that could lead to an overland route for provincial goods to the rich markets of South Korea.  This is just something to keep in mind when discussing the issues of sanctions on North Korea and the Chinese role in enforcing or not enforcing those sanctions.

Tumen City center for economic cooperation

Meanwhile, Yanbian is pumping up the effectiveness of its police forces (links in Chinese) here and here, and, since Euna Lee and Laura Ling (as well as Mike Kim) are no longer reporting on the issue, the city appears to be doing more crackdowns on prostitution fronts as well.

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