All Roads Lead to Chongjin

Back in October 2009 I wrote about new tourism agreements put into place between North Korea’s North Hamgyong province and Chinese counterparts in Tumen city.  In spite of North Korea putting the brakes on foreign travel in North Korea last December, the trend toward cooperation resumes.  Today North Korea Economy Watch conveys news that Tumen-Chongjin rail travel will soon be possible. Here is the Korea … Continue reading All Roads Lead to Chongjin

Police Payoffs in Chongjin and Upset Students in Sinuiju

The latest Good Friends report for January 2010 has been released, and includes these dispatches: Police Returned Stolen Objects to Owners after Receiving Payment At the Chungjin Preservation Center of Northern Hamgyong Province, possessions stolen during the 100-Day Battle were being returned as of December 8th. Officers have found 20 bicycles, 8 TV’s, 2 motorcycles, and 5 sacks of clothes upon capturing four thieves. Village … Continue reading Police Payoffs in Chongjin and Upset Students in Sinuiju

Life and Death in the Koreas

I just emerged from a 46-hour encounter (minus a few breaks for sleeping, teaching, writing, riding a city bus with some ex-cons, and eating) with Barabara Demick’s outstanding new book, Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea.   On the whole, it’s a masterwork modeled after John Hersey’s Hiroshima, following the lives of six individuals from the death of Kim Il-Sung in 1994 until … Continue reading Life and Death in the Koreas

News from Yanji

Well, North Korea may be on fire, but the wise Chinese Communist Party has apparently decided that releasing the news in the PRC would disturb social harmony.  Or otherwise interfere with its evolving master narrative on North Korea.  As Professor Jonathan Pollack reminds us, the PRC narrative now includes sticks as well as carrots, and features some unprecedented public criticism of North Korea. So instead … Continue reading News from Yanji

North Korean Frontier Provinces are On Fire

Joshua Stanton at One Free Korea has been perusing satellite imagery again.  Normally this results in his steady and impressive posting of labor camps, as well as compounds and villas in the DPRK.  (For a fascinating interview with Stanton’s colleague in this pursuit, Curtis Melvin of NK Economy Watch blog, on the Rachel Maddow show, click here.) But today Joshua hit upon something rather alarming: … Continue reading North Korean Frontier Provinces are On Fire

News and Background on Sino-Korean Relations

The South Korean satellite launch is getting short shrift in American media, but the PRC’s Global Times gives it top billing. I think this indicates that China is, as it ought to be, still skeptical toward both Koreas and that rebuking the DPRK over its recent hard line does not automatically equate to full embrace of ROK imperatives. I’m finishing up a review for Korean … Continue reading News and Background on Sino-Korean Relations