28 November 2016
So near yet so far. That is how one journalist described his photograph of the Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge, taken from the Chinese border in Dandong, Liaoning province, opposite Sinuiju in North Korea.
As a Singaporean correspondent based in Beijing, he was lamenting the fact he could not enter North Korea via Sinuiju ― instead he needed official approval to enter via the capital, Pyongyang.
But he might equally have been describing the sentiments of many Chinese towards their neighbour. So close geographically, but so different and far apart. While Chinese are fascinated by life across the Yalu River, many know precious little about their controversial neighbour ― despite the much-touted ties between the two countries, supposedly sealed in blood during the 1950-53 Korean War.
… Shawn Ho, an associate research fellow with Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said any ignorance was due to the lack of authentic information coming out from North Korea.
Ho said interactions with Chinese tourists might lead to North Koreans “questioning certain aspects of their own society, way of life, and what they can possibly do to shape their own individual future”. However, he said the state still had “a very dominant presence in North Korean society” and therefore major changes were likely to result “only from a top-down approach by the state rather than a bottom-up approach from the people”.
IDSS / Online
Last updated on 29/11/2016