Tremors on the Periphery: Sinuiju Unrest

Yesterday I got a message from one of my favorite North Korea specialists, Owen Miller at the School of Oriental and African Sciences in London, concening a recent disturbance in Sinuiju, the northwesternmost city in the DPRK and a bellwether when it comes to regime intentions and popular resistance. More information about the protests is available via Chosun Ilbo (Korean version here), as well as on an Asia Catholic website. Indeed, Daily NK now reports that the Workers’ Party has now ordered the assembling of “riot squads” in big cities.

O(As for Owen’s own formidable writing about North Korea’s early tumult, and the Sinuiju Incident of 1945, I will recommend this remarkable essay of his in the journal International Socialism.)

The Chinese media has had little direct to say about the events in Sinuiju, and likely won’t comment, given the CCP’s aversion to discussing the manufacture of a “Jasmine Revolution” in China.

However, after a couple of hours of reviewing the national press in China and working my way through the Public Security Bureau website in Dandong, it seems that Chinese cops generally are ready to handle any revolutionary spillover with some rather fearsome firepower.  I was in Dandong the last time the city had an emergency (that is to say, during the August 20 floods; my surreal reportage is available here), but this kind of firepower for local cops — as opposed to the PLA — is completely new.   Back in October it was reported on a national website that Dandong frontier cops were now touting high-powered rifles, and engaging in “anti-terrorism drills.” Contrary to my comment which may or may not be posted at One Free Korea today, the photos are from the neighboring maritime province of Shandong, but I’m assuming that local forces will probably have something that looks like this in their arsenal fairly soon.

This is what it takes to keep Northeast Asian frontiers harmonious, people!  That, and German shepherds.

Toys for the boys on the North Korean border -- image courtesy Dandong Public Security Bureau -- click image for link to an impressive short gallery


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