December 01, 2023
What If?

What if North Korea’s vessels become significantly harder to track?

China’s data privacy laws and friction with the West may soon make ship tracking information hard to come by in Asia

Editor’s note: What If? is an NK News series featuring scenarios about North Korea’s future. Articles in this series draw on verified facts and rigorous analysis to explore hypothetical events in the years and decades ahead.

Every day tens of thousands of rickety fishing boats, cargo ships and chemical tankers criss-cross Chinese waters in a dizzying frenzy, creating one of the most dangerous places to sail in the world. Amid the mayhem, North Korean cargo ships rendezvous with Chinese vessels to illegally offload iron, coal and zinc in risky ship-to-ship transfers on rough waters.