23 Search Results for: rason

Ambassador Liu Makes a Visit to Rason, North Korea

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Borderlands / North Korea / North Korean border region / Sino-North Korean relations / Yanbian

The Chinese-North Korean relationship is hardly in full comradely bloom, but neither is it in a state of total breakdown and acrimony. Rason, the port/SEZ in the extreme northeast of the DPRK and a relatively short drive from China and its Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture, is a good case in point. One month ago, Liu Hongcai, the Chinese Ambassador in Pyongyang, made a trip around the Rason Special Economic Zone which went essentially unremarked upon. Xi […]

Putting a Price Tag on North Korea’s October 10 Celebrations

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North Korea / Propaganda
Screen shot 2015-10-17 at 17.16.11

I don’t doubt there is an abundance of potential fury in North Korea’s provinces, but it does seem odd that a single parade, fireworks display, and associated banquets and pageantry would eat up an amount equivalent roughly equivalent to 7% of the country’s GDP (source: CIA World Factbook, 2013 GDP est. at 28 billion). While Pyongyang remains the inevitable epicentre of state expenditure and ostentatious display, the state and Kim Jong-un personally have taken efforts recently to […]

Trains, Trade, and Corruption: Dandong Data Points

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Borderlands / Chinese communist party / Chinese foreign policy / Kim Jong-un / My Publications / North Korea / North Korea foreign relations / North Korean border region / Sino-North Korean relations
Dandong Trade Fair

While analysts were surely right to parse the dynamics of the 3 September parade in Beijing, the work of assessing the state of Chinese-North Korean relations needs to go well beyond seating charts, personalities, and speculation about Kim Jong-un. As the main juncture for bilateral trade, the Chinese border city of Dandong should be near the top of any short list of generally verifiable factual indicators of Chinese-North Korean relations. Synthesizing all the stuff going on in and […]

Data Points from a Summer of Ambivalence in Chinese-North Korean Relations

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China / North Korea / Sino-North Korean relations
PRC Ambassador

As  summer gets underway in earnest, China’s new Ambassador to North Korea is getting to work in Pyongyang and surrounding points. While Chinese academics fulminate at the lack of coordination offered by North Korea to its socialist ally, and PRC state media inexplicably seems to encourage various forms of speculation about Li Jinjun’s having been ‘frozen out’ from contact with North Korean officials, I thought it might be useful to revisit a few data points from last summer. […]

The Interview: A Rare Glimpse into the Alternate Reality of CNN in North Korea

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North Korea / Propaganda / 新闻自由
Screen shot 2015-05-09 at 12.02.06

CNN’s Will Ripley was recently summoned to Pyongyang, coinciding nicely with North Korea’s announcement that the country had placed yet another American wanderer in custody for crossing the border illegally. Apart from a short interview with the young sufferer (he has been diagnosed with an extreme condition of “North Korean ennui”), Ripley was given access to a real live North Korean official, who delivered the usual talking points: Refugees are scum, the economy is improving, […]

Bubble at the Summit: Insecurities in Kim Jong-un Itineraries

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Borderlands / factionalism in North Korea / Kim Jong-un / Kim Jong-un health / Manchuria / North Korea / North Korean border region / Op-Ed / Sino-North Korean relations / Yanbian
KJU Wonsan

Is Kim Jong-un staggeringly confident, or do his behaviours and travel itineraries betray personal neuroses and structural fears? The short answer is that it depends on the issue under discussion. Let’s take the economy for starters. Like a shrimp rediscovering its appetite after an awful oil spill, the North Korean economy appears to be improving, or so argue a number of indicators. Several smaller dams around the Huichon behemoth are coming online, meaning there is more power […]

Three Questions on Dandong and Chinese-North Korean Economic Relations

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Borderlands / North Korean border region / Sino-North Korean relations

As the third China-North Korea Trade Fair continues, a few questions (modified from those posed by a stalwart reporter from a northern European news magazine roaming Liaoning province) and tentative answers seem appropriate. Q.: There is a great deal of new construction in Dandong and Chinese real estate companies are clearly trying to attract buyers — including possibly wealthy North Koreans.  I have been going to the ‘Xinchengqu’ (or New City district) every year since that […]

The Dandong Trade Fair

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Borderlands / North Korean border region / Sino-North Korean relations

As the rest of the world gets accustomed to seeing Kim Jong-un walk with a cane, we might do well to figure out what, if anything, is changing about the way that the broader North Korean state engages with the economic powerhouses that engulf its southern and northern peripheries. KEI’s Director of Research recently assessed the outlook for improved inter-Korean economic relations in the aftermath of the surprising visit of a high-level North Korean troika […]

Americans in Pyongyang: Detainees, Prisoners, Hostages, and Pawns

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Yesterday, North Korea gave the US media momentary access to three American nationals currently detained in the DPRK. Finding the right terms to capture what function these three unfortunate men are serving at the moment is tricky at the moment. For convenience, let’s just start with nouns: “Detainee” is probably the most neutral designation, though for certain intrepid lawyers even this language has been tainted by post-9/11 practices and the erosion of habeus corpus at home. So we are hamstrung, and […]

Cambridge on the Tumen: A Transnational Workshop

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Borderlands / Korean War / Manchuria / North Korean border region / Sino-North Korean relations / Yanbian

A small group of scholars gathered in Cambridge on Friday, May 23 for a conference centered on the Tumen River and a critical sub- region of Northeast Asia which has seen less critical attention than the issues surrounding it might indicate it deserves. Funded by the Beyond the Korean War Project  and including participants from the North Asian Borders Network, the workshop brought together a number of experts. Among the issues explored at the workshop included […]