December 07, 2023

View from the bridge: Signs of change on the N.Korea-China border?

In the border city economic shift is underway - but little appears to change in the DPRK

Usually I go to Dandong once every year or two, but this year was an exception, and in late August, I spent a few days in what is North Korea’s major access point to the outside world. Among other things, it was interesting to learn about what had recently happened in a town that since January has seen a chain of dramatic events, above all, the nuclear test in January and the introduction of the toughest ever sanctions in March.

Of course, all the observations that I am going to share with readers should be taken with a grain of salt: my contacts, overwhelmingly owners of medium-sized businesses, are not in a position to see the big picture and are not privy to state secrets. Nonetheless, they live there and have good reason to know what is going on.