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

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

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

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

Scoping North Korea’s Emerging Trade Zones with China

Leaving the thrall of Hong Kong behind (and not even by boat!), I’ll be moving up into Dalian and the Liaodong peninsula for the next several days.  Not being a wealthy Chinese investor with a Hummer in Changchun, there’s no way I can make it to distant Rason, but I will certainly be spending some good time checking things out in Dandong and near the … Continue reading Scoping North Korea’s Emerging Trade Zones with China

Chinese Troops in North Korea?

On the eve of Hu Jintao’s visit to Washington, D.C., the Chosun Ilbo releases an explosive report that Chinese troops have moved into the Rason Special Economic Zone on Korea’s northeastern tip.   I just posted a rather extensive comment on this story on the One Free Korea site, the contents of which I won’t mirror here, except to add that according to this translation … Continue reading Chinese Troops in North Korea?

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