The Thorn in China’s Side: North Korea

Although I previously wrote a blog post on a similar article, this topic is one of great interest to me. The article starts out talking about the recent execution of Kim Jong Un’s uncle and mentor, Jang Song Thaek. One of the reasons this purging has become such big news is because of the position of power his Uncle held. Jang Song Thaek was in charge of trade with China. There was suspicion of treason, with Song Thaek selling North Korean goods, such as coal, at unreasonably cheap prices, to China. Cai Jian, an expert on Korea from Fudan University in Shanghai, says that it may have also been a direct swipe at China. China has great influence over North Korea, as it supplies North Korea with many necessary goods, along with being a sort of protector. As one North Korean woman working in a Chinese department store said, “How could North Korea survive without China?” However, North Korea may worry about this influence, thus editing Jang Song Thaek out of the picture, lessoning the influence. The worry now is about the economy in North Korea, as fewer goods are now heading into North Korea from China. Many still ask, as do I, why China continues to support North Korea? Looking at it from one point, North Korea just seems like a deeply embedded thorn in China’s side. But Cai Jian says that China seems to have decided that the stability of the Kim regime is in their strategic interest. I’m curious to delve deeper into China’s opinion on North Korea. I’d also like to know more about their trading system and see if there’s any new information as to how it’s managed from the North Korean side. I’m also interested in learning more about the northeast part of China, where, across the Yalu River, products are taken by train into North Korea. It’s described as North Korea’s only real point of contact with the outside world. And few North Koreans are lucky enough to make a visit there.

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