North Korean Lorry Watch

Chosun Ilbo reports from Dandong about a supposed influx of Chinese military equipment into the DPRK.  I was all over that bridge 5-7 days ago and there were indeed quite a few trucks coming back from the North, but then again, there were a few bare-handed swimmers as well, and the Sinuiju riviera has not yet calcified completely.

One Free Korea, who is normally superbly on top of aggragating border-related news, is going into minor remission these days.

Both of these things make me a little nervous, much as Kim Jong Il —  he rolling towards the Urals as if deployed by a Pasternakian plot — regards Operation ‘Ulchi Guardian’ obliquely from his flatscreened armored train command post.

And thus one turns to questions of “free trade (within a command economy)” in Rason via Curtis Melvin, and gets an eyeful of nigh-retroactive North Korean-Russian relations on Sergei Witte’s great Eastern rail spur, a look at Kim Jong Il in Russia by NK Leadership Watch.

Some people think the Chinese bridle at having Kim reach out to Russia for aid and support (some even say he is “reviving Kim Il Song’s policy of playing Beijing off of Moscow”), but this is precisely wrong: Huanqiu Shibao at multiple points in its initial analytical page 2 Kim-in-Russia story, a story which I read in its entirely for precisely the length of time it takes to get through the border at LAX from Shanghai, emphasizes precisely that Russian help will reduce North Korean dependency on China, and by implication this is a good thing.

The answer, then, is to count cars and points of patronage as if they were bars of music, in successsion and separate ictus.  The Chinese now drape the bridge in Dandong with gently-colored lights; the old Japanese command post gun slots are each filled with a soft purple bulb.  This invitation to commerce, to parting with one’s currency in exchange for the novel, brings with it a weird wind, coughing with seraphims from the North.

Hat tip to the ever-brilliant Tor in Stockholm for the post title.

Image courtesy Noko Jeans, Stockholm-Pyongyang

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