DPRK Imports Cars: Chinese Netizens Sound Off

In preparations for the April 15 birthday of Kim Il Song/national holiday, the North Korean government imported more than 100 automobiles to be given as gifts to mid-level officials and military members.  (This story was discussed on Sinologistical Violoncellist, based on the Chinese sources, and here on the rather ideological yet well informed rollback blog, One Free Korea.)

This story didn’t pick up an immense number of comments — unlike this rather interesting story about Liaoning peasants kneeling before a city government building in Zhuanghe — but the 31 comments that did filter in on the Huanqiu Shibao story, I thought, were worth translating, as they may indicate something about the limits of public discourse as regards North Korea in China.  As always, comments on the translation are welcomed:

为什么 不是qq  Why isn’t this on qq? [qq is a popular Chinese website]

多花点朝币,好好庆祝一下吧。 Sure, spend more North Korean money, celebrate a bit! [E.g., spend more North Korean money, as it benefits China]

bang 子的话也有人相信? 悲哀 Are there people who trust Korean idiots?  Sad.

F3好车 实惠 F3 are good cars; an advantageous deal.

悲哀 Sad

居然F3!!!! What a suprise to see F3s!!!
这礼物真够厚重的! Hahahaha….These are truly generous gifts!

韩媒公开造谣的事例还少吗? Are examples of reports of rumors publicized by the South Korean media now reduced in number?

看来穷人喜欢买F3  Looks like the poor people like to buy F3s

朝鲜人也真舍得,老百姓饭都吃不饱,杯具~~~~  North Korean people are also really poor, their common people never eat their fill, it’s sad….

唇亡齿寒,要未雨绸缪 Without the lips, the teeth feel cold, so it’s best to plan ahead. [This response combines two well-known Chinese idioms.  The first idiom was explicitly used as justification for China’s invasion of Korea in 1950, and is the positively stated equivalent of the notion of Korea as a “dagger pointed at the heart,” the idea being that Korea is both necessary for China’s security and that North Korea and China are as close and as integral as one’s mouth.  The second idiom, stemming from the Book of Songs, literally means to bind things with silk in anticipation for rain, a way of saying that you have to prepare well, make hay while the sun shines, etc.  In any case, this is a kind of playful juxtaposition of idioms with Chinese pragmatism: Always remember that the fundamental geography of North Korea’s position in Chinese strategy isn’t going to change, and thus it is advantageous to have friends in Pyongyang by whatever means.]

朝鲜人民没有粮食,应该多买些粮食啊!唉~~~~ North Korean people have no grain to eat, it seems [their government] should buy more grain!  Ah….

怀疑又没给钱 I’m skeptical that again they gave [us] no money

管他干什么,一手交钱一手交货就行。 If you watch how they operate, one hand takes the money, and the other hand takes the goods.

多买些粮食给民众吃吧。 [They should] buy more grain and give it to the masses to eat.

玉树州红十字会称玉树70%学校发生垮塌 The Yushu Red Cross says that 70% of schools in Yushu have collapsed.

我们是不会卖给他们大米的他们只能买美国人的米。。We can’t sell or give the best rice to them, and they can’t buy rice from Americans…

South Korean people are fabricating news all day long

又赚一大笔,可能以后要拿粮食补贴他吧 Another masterpiece!  It’s possible that afterwords they will need another subsidy of grain.

500多万美元按目前的汇率,是3400万人民币,按照目前普通大米人民币2元一斤即4元一公斤的零售市场价格(大米批发更便宜,美国叫嚷1000美元一吨大米但是太贵没人要),这笔钱可以买850万公斤大米。Right now a fund of 5 million USD is equivalent to 34 million RMB.  Calculating that regular rice costs 2 to 4 RMB per jin, it appears that the funds cited in this article could have been used to purchase 8.5 million tons of rice.

只要我们有钱赚就行了 As long as we have money, it’s fine.

把用来买车的钱给老百姓买点大米不好吗 这样的国家也不管人们的死活 Using the money to buy cars instead of giving some rice to the common people is not good.  That country doesn’t care if the people live or die.


支持比亚迪 Support BYD [BYD is a Chinese automaker].

很拉积 [They are] really accumulating stuff.

花钱了吗? [Did they really] spend money? [E.g., were these cars actually a gift from China?]

据韩国《朝鲜日报》414日报道,看清楚再说,棒子说的话100句里信一句就够了。Looking clearly and reassessing the Choson Ilbo’s report of April 14, within 100 sentences spoken by Korean idiots, one sentence can be trusted.

南朝鲜集体剽窃中国历史文化不以为耻反以为荣比北朝鲜更令人讨厌 South Choson organizations plagiarize Chinese history and culture to feel pride when they should feel shame, but North Korea is even more loathsome. [At first, this comment’s retro usage of “South Chosun/南朝鲜,” combined with the fact that it was the first comment on the story, made me imagine that it was going to be a defense of the DPRK.  This was far from the case!  It appears that Chinese commenters now have pretty much free rein to abuse North Korea with impunity on the net, and that China doesn’t even do the North Koreans a courtesy of a few “50-cent party” (paid commenters) to say nice things about the North.]

Into Sinuiju, augmenting the DPRK's automotive fleet -- via One Free Korea/Chosun Ilbo -- Photos unavailable on Chinese sites, thus facilitating doubts about the veracity of the reports


  1. hey, man. I have to tell you something. I am not a native English speaker. It is not a good way to think of that comments in Chinese web portal sites. Because they are all addressed by some specified contents, I mean, it is not the civilians’ ideas. From the sounds pattern -style of those words! I am definitely sure they are some supporters of the red people. They are organized and salaries paid clans. Their texts are made with some standards of political concepts. (Maybe you understand my words?! I mean, in mind, not copy) Any free idea will not be published in these sort of sites since recent few years. So you just neglect these on-line publish contents, try to communicate with the real lower class men(or civilians), though this maybe very risky. Be careful your security, maybe some guys are red supporters. I think that way could be better to understanding the real situation for your research course.

    1. Hey Man, thanks for the advice. I think it is always a good idea to, as Chairman Mao said, spend time with the real masses and do studies of what they really feel and think and are concerned with, not merely believe the surface reality. I suppose that I should further ask myself if these internet comments made by anonymous “netizens” are anything of a type which Chinese I know and with whom I interact would agree or echo. Often not! So here is to the power of fieldwork, and of the combining of various data sets to get something real. Glad you could visit the blog.

  2. A man, given the more than likely fact that these comments are coming from people being paid to post it is significant. Like Adam said, the Chinese government appears to be allowing all out discourse to be posted about the DPRK now.

  3. I’m afraid that your Chinese needs real work. There are a number of egregious mistakes among your translations of netizen comments. For example, how on earth did you come up with “Another masterpiece!” for “又赚一大笔”? Good grief! And that’s just one of many errors that I noticed. Are you really a professor of Chinese history? Hard to believe.

    1. Gan Lu, thanks for this and the other insight. That’s what the blog is all about, me (a junior Chinese history professor) doing things quickly with virtually no revision, counting on reviews/comments such as yours to keep things sharp and accurate. Since the blog isn’t a book manuscript or a peer-reviewed journal article (and my main emphasis in research is anything but the blog, you’re welcome to read my bio and critique my Chinese translations in China Quarterly and other journals), I don’t go through with a fine-toothed comb, and yes, occasionally a whopper will escape its way onto the sacred screen of the Internet. Netizen language in particular is often mysterious to me given the swiftness of the changing idioms, so reviews are doubly important with these comments.

      If nothing else, this post and others like it do two things: 1. Provide the links to the stories and the commentary and 2. Provide a general sense of the tone of the comments. Until I find another blog in English (or French or German for that matter) that does anything of the sort with reference to North Korea-China relations, I’ll consider my work as a service to English-speaking readers and hope that more readers take up your assumption and read the translations with a more critical eye.

      Out of curiosity, and in the interests of improving the quality of the post you’ve taken the time to blast, how would you render 又赚一大笔, anyway?

  4. Furthermore, I find the idea that the Chinese government is now allowing for all out discourse on the subject of North Korea to be a bit premature. Less than 2 years ago, the Chinese government caved to DPRK pressure and refused publication of *The Real DPRK* (真实的朝鲜) by Ye Yonglie (叶永烈). I wonder…is Ye’s book now available?

    Allowing the Chinese media to speak of Kim’s recent visit is not quite the same thing as allowing for open discourse, don’t you think? Even now, nearly 60 years after the “end” of the Korean War, Chinese history texts on the subject continue to offer up the same tired narrative of Chinese involvement. Many even continue to suggest that the U.S./U.N. forces invaded the South, thus provoking the North’s response.

    1. Thanks for the tip on Ye’s book. I don’t think “all out discourse” is what I’m arguing, but the parameters are certainly widening. What the effect of that is, is another question.

  5. I like some of the new domestic rides, but I still think Honda’s are the way to go. They are what I drive.

  6. So North Korea has announced a successor to the regime. This might actually be a good factor for the reason that it might bring a little stability to that tricky part of the world. I think it is not likely a Berlin Wall style scenario will arise as a result best to choose a more softening approach as has occured with China it’s most important supporter

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