I’ve just shot off a voluminous bolt of Tweets on the subject, but thought I might wax on the plus-140-characters side of things here on S.V. regards recent activity in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture in northeast China, snug up against the North Korean border.
Do you suppose we will learn anything new with the publication — tomorrow! — of the Ling sister memoir of Laura Ling’s captivity in the DPRK, her sadly monolingual cloak-and-dagger activities seeking out prostitutes and sold brides in Manchuria? I should certainly hope so. As a down payment on that new knowledge, here is a bit of context which may not be included by the Lings in their Oprah-endorsed exposé.
Coursing through the various online channels into Yanbian, one finds themes of construction/destruction, law and order, and, of course, a drive toward more foreign investment.
A new (temporary) footbridge is going in at the same spot where people used to shoot across tied to a wire, into a shoreside theme park/outdoor bierstube:
And new roads are being blasted. To me, this photo represents much of what China is about today — it might even make Stalin, were he alive, choke with envy:
News has now hit Yanbian as regards to South Korean assignation of guilt to the DPRK for the Cheonan sinking. No comment yet from northeastern netizens, and perhaps none to be found on the regional websites.
Somehow I missed the news, but back in December (not long before yet another American walked across the Tumen demanding Christian salvation via Kim Jong Il) Yanbian officials had a big conference on environmental protection:
Normally the above kind of photos (via Yanbian’s government site) induce sleep or sarcasm, but I’ll tell you, standing on the Chinese side of the border and staring at clear-cut (and often smoggy) North Korea makes one really grateful that the PRC is making big strides in terms of environmental consciousness. I can say that without being accused of self-censorship by the New York Times, can’t I?
Law and order is similarly prevalent in Yanbian these days. A trio of “April 16” murderers were recently tried in court, and, I believe, themselves received death sentences. True to its Legalist tradition, the PRC publishes photos of the parents of the convicted killers, upping the shame factor exponentially. I thought this photograph, set in front of some huge slogans promoting military readiness, was most powerful from a series:
Student activities are also included here. The Public Security Bureau in January kicked off a serious drive to “purify the cultural environment” around Yanbian University and high school campuses, cracking down on “black” (e.g., illegal/unregistered) internet cafes.
But probably the most important law-and-order story concerns the promulgation, on March 15, of a new law aiming to reduce the trafficking of women and children nationally [ 《关于依法惩治拐卖妇女儿童犯罪的意见》的通知 ]. The press release was put out on April 7, so we aren’t running too far behind on this one. At some point I might aim to get a more full translation out, particularly given the public attention that is going to be paid to the women-trafficking issue thanks to the Ling sisters (Laura and CurrentTV were working on a documentary on this issue when she foolishly crossed into the DPRK and was arrested). The press release also carries some precious statistics, while never explicitly mentioning that the problem, at least in the autonomous prefecture, primarily concerns foreign nationals (e.g., North Korean women).
Related Post: “Crimes and Misdemeanors in Yanji,” February 8, 2010.