At first I wondered: even in the midst of North Korea’s biggest wave of Chinese aid and investment since 1958, isn’t it a little bit unusual for the mayor of Dandong to go to Pyongyang? And for KCNA to throw down not one, but three stories about the friendly visit?
And then I read a new piece in the Daily NK (which unlike so many DailyNK stories has much more than a just single source breathing rumors into a borderland cell phone) which describes a major purge going on in Sinuiju and surrounding North Pyong’an province.
Thus the difficulties of working with North Korea are highlighted, and Chinese tactics in dealing with those difficulties. Occasionally one’s cross-border counterparts will simply disappear, and with them the claims to capacity or access of various kinds.
For Chinese officials in the northeastern provinces, the lesson is clear: always have friends in Pyongyang (preferably a handshake away from the Dear Leader), because the provincial cadre (even the ones you took out to karaoke, warbling away on the Dandong riviera) may not have your back after all.