Sunday, November 24, 2013

"Master Builder," Indeed

China is funding building projects in North Korea. It sounds less like a real effort to create some semblance of an economy above prison barter stage than it is an effort to facilitate a Chinese invasion of North Korea.

I don't think this means North Korea is staving off collapse, although it may buy time:

Partly out of the public eye, however, the young leader has presided over a construction boom since he took office two years ago with the aid of funds from China, the North's major backer, and Russia, a former Cold War ally.

So what is being built?


Chinese money paid for a $300 million suspension bridge across a one kilometre-wide stretch of the Yalu River, according to Chinese media reports, linking China's port city of Dandong and its North Korean equivalent, Sinuiju.

That's along the main highway from China into North Korea in the west.

And then there are roads:

"The DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) appears to be increasing the quantity and quality of paved roads," said Curtis Melvin, a researcher at the U.S.-Korea Institute at the John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

"It appears one goal is to link all the provincial capitals to Pyongyang by paved highway (and) increase road transport integration with the Chinese economy," said Melvin, who spotted foundations for the Wonsan-Hamhung road using satellite imagery.


So if there is a dispute among the powers about who should administer a collapsed North Korean state, China is making sure that the main highway into North Korea allows the Chinese army to rapidly drive south to Pyongyang.

And from there, the Chinese army can fan out to other parts of North Korea to various provincial capitals.

Meanwhile, South Korean forces would have to react to the Chinese move and then cross the heavily mined, obstacled, and defended DMZ before trying to sprint to Pyongyang and lay claim to the northern part of the peninsula.

Is Kim Jong Un the Master Builder? From China's point of view (and axis of advance), sure. Have a cookie, Kim. Heckuva job!