Yuanization and Currency Politics on the DPRK’s Chinese Frontier

North Korea’s long border with the People’s Republic of China is often seen as a permeable membrane for the movement of people and goods — in other words, as a conduit for smuggling. The movement of DVDs, USBs, and illicit drugs seems to get the most press (although North Korea is also involved in legal enterprises in China). Just as important than such illegal activity, … Continue reading Yuanization and Currency Politics on the DPRK’s Chinese Frontier

Ambassador Liu Makes a Visit to Rason, North Korea

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 … Continue reading Ambassador Liu Makes a Visit to Rason, North Korea

Comment on Haggard: The North Korean Restaurant Franchise

Stephan Haggard is an endless source of extreme quantities of highly enriched North Korea information. His ‘blog’ posts (which are usually more like mini-journal articles, trenchantly done but lighter and more fluent in style)  at Witness to Transformation place him at the prow of a mighty and miraculously regular enterprise, so it’s only courteous to add data in the form of a comment if you’ve … Continue reading Comment on Haggard: The North Korean Restaurant Franchise

In the Shadow of Jang Song-taek: Lecture in Washington, D.C.

On Thursday, June 19, in Washington, D.C., I gave a lecture and participated in an extensive Q & A on the subject of post-purge North Korean Special Economic Zones in China. The Q & A for the event, hosted by the Korea Economic Institute as part of its Academic Paper Series, starts at about minute 45 of the above video; the pdf of the working … Continue reading In the Shadow of Jang Song-taek: Lecture in Washington, D.C.

Cambridge on the Tumen: A Transnational Workshop

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 … Continue reading Cambridge on the Tumen: A Transnational Workshop

Assessing the Jang Song-taek Effect: The View from Yanbian

I spent the month of April in northeast China, and had the opportunity to speak to several knowledgeable interlocutors about Sino-North Korean relations. In particular, the aftereffects of the purge of Jang Song-taek were of interest — at least as much interest as the rare materials I was able to pick up and research in Yanbian. In reviewing my notes for an upcoming talk at … Continue reading Assessing the Jang Song-taek Effect: The View from Yanbian

Is China losing faith in North Korea? A Contribution to The Guardian

Having been asked to put something together for the Guardian‘s new North Korea network, I did, and had the following short essay included as part of a very fine panel: One of the things you quickly realise from travelling along the full length of the Chinese border with North Korea is just how much of North Korea there is. China’s boundary stretches along four northern … Continue reading Is China losing faith in North Korea? A Contribution to The Guardian