Dandong Discourse: China-DPRK Trade Fair, and Rumblings in Xinchengqu

Historians have surely seen better days between the Chinese Communist Party and the Kim-centric Workers’ Party of [North] Korea, but business continues apace today in the borderland. The main item seen in the past few weeks (i.e., something “new” that hasn’t yet made it yet into our wonderful Anglophone discourse) is the subject of today’s post. And the news is that the China-DPRK Trade Fair and Culture/Tourism Expo … Continue reading Dandong Discourse: China-DPRK Trade Fair, and Rumblings in Xinchengqu

Distant Proximity: China and the North Korean Human Rights Catastrophe

Beijing is a long way from North Korea.  Border crossing points between China and the DPRK remain open, but the potentially fastest and ‘game-changing’ of these is blocked at present, clogged up with estuary mud and the slow hatreds of bureaucratic inaction. Chinese trains that blaze up and down the northeast have yet to reach the North Korean frontier. But when they do arrive, panting … Continue reading Distant Proximity: China and the North Korean Human Rights Catastrophe

Three Questions on Dandong and Chinese-North Korean Economic 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 … Continue reading Three Questions on Dandong and Chinese-North Korean Economic Relations

Deals, Development, and Dead Refugees: Get Ready for the New Status Quo on the Sino-North Korean Border

Among the activities which I undertake each year, there is one for which I reserve a special vim.  There on the grand third floor, at the end of the classical reading room of the New York Public Library, I sit for a single day, perhaps two, burrowing down into a rather large collection of propaganda aimed at North Koreans dating from the 1950s.   As I … Continue reading Deals, Development, and Dead Refugees: Get Ready for the New Status Quo on the Sino-North Korean Border

Releasing Robert, and Economic Development in Tumen

One Free Korea, channeling Reuters and a fascinating KCNA-published “confession” of the border-hopping misssionary, reports that Robert Park will be released from captivity in North Korea. Meanwhile, Chinese media outlets have yet to pick up the story, but might do so eventually.  Given their druthers, the Chinese would rather not give mainland readers the idea that foreigners are running willy-nilly in the Northeast, as the … Continue reading Releasing Robert, and Economic Development in Tumen

Northern Border News

The latest Good Friends report from North Korean sources contains a couple of items of note: The Democratic Women’s Union (DWU) of the National Border Area in the North Hamgyong Province declared that the number of women crossing the river has decreased because of the 150-Day battle. Of course, there were still women crossing the river, but the number of women crossing the river decreased … Continue reading Northern Border News

Thunder Rumbles out of Chinese Archives

Xinhua’s English-language service reports: Chinese military archivists have identified more than 100 documents that could lead to the repatriation of the remains of the United States personnel who disappeared during and after the Korean War (1950-1953). More than 50,000 U.S. personnel were killed in Korean Peninsula and along the border of China and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). The U.S. Department of Defense … Continue reading Thunder Rumbles out of Chinese Archives

Chinese Foreign Ministry Statement Refutes Ling & Lee, Defuses Notion of Secret U.S.-North Korea Talks

Prim and businesslike PRC Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu had her work cut out for her today. The reporters in the room were smelling blood — a high-profile editorial by America’s most famous ex-hostages in the L.A. Times asserted that the North Koreans had abducted from Chinese soil.  And this bombshell landed right in the middle of an equally high-profile visit of North Korean Vice-Foreign … Continue reading Chinese Foreign Ministry Statement Refutes Ling & Lee, Defuses Notion of Secret U.S.-North Korea Talks

Fistfuls of Chinese Earth, Breaths of Conspiracy, Fusillades of Propaganda

The Laura Ling/Euna Lee editorial has been partially translated and passed along, virtually without commentary or analysis, on the Daily NK’s Chinese website, which is accessible in China. And the headline is, of course, “we were grabbed from Chinese territory.”   (This has an especially potent ring in Chinese, I might add: “从中国领土抓走,” evoking something sacred about the territory in a nationalist discourse which is the … Continue reading Fistfuls of Chinese Earth, Breaths of Conspiracy, Fusillades of Propaganda

Internet Babble Makes For Poignant Absences

Sometimes an item will soar up from incoherent babble of the Internet, and shine in a fashion that is so exceedingly incoherent, so counterfactual, so cognitively dissonant, that it actually becomes beautiful. In researching a post I’ve been cogitating on and drafting for a few days now about prostitution in Hyesan, I found something that captured a real truth. It was like the time in … Continue reading Internet Babble Makes For Poignant Absences