The reclusive country is in a fragile dance with China and the United States fraught with mistrust.

The latest social media craze in China: watching North Koreans
China’s booming online video scene offers something for everyone: cute animals, cooking tutorials, quirky artwork and now, a glimpse into the world’s most reclusive country. Residents in China’s northeast near North Korea have gained legions of fans online by posting videos of North Koreans on the other side of the border.  On the popular video and live-streaming site Kuaishou, users have posted hundreds of videos of North Koreans walking on the road, shopping at markets, riding bicycles and even taking baths in the Yalu River that separates the two countries.  “We can film them because the river is quite narrow here,” a 34-year-old video host in the northeastern county of Changbai, which ov
What’s behind Xi Jinping’s meeting with Kim Jong-un?
China's President Xi Jinping touched down in Pyongyang on Thursday, making him the first Chinese leader to visit North Korea in almost 15 years. The meeting between Xi and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un comes at an important time for both nations. Each needs to get something out of this trip. North Korea is looking for a new way to boost its economy, and China needs a bargaining chip in the form of a denuclearized North Korea to bring to its talks with the US. In the video above, we spoke with South China Morning Post reporter Lee Jeong-ho, who covers the Korean peninsula, about what this meeting means.
North Korea has turned the tables on the US
Two North Korean actions during the past week demonstrate how paramount leader Kim Jong-un senses that, with China’s help, he has reversed the balance of leverage between his country and the United States over the last year and a half. On Thursday, Pyongyang announced it had tested a new type of “tactical guided weapon,” with no additional details. Later the same day, senior North Korean foreign ministry official Kwon Jong-gun made a public statement calling on Washington to replace Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as the leader of US negotiations with Pyongyang over the long-running nuclear weapons crisis. How things have changed since 2017-18, when the Donald Trump administration’s approach
The US, China and North Korea are stuck in a three-way chess game
Trade and nuclear weapons. On the surface, they seem like two completely different issues. One is business, the other is geopolitics. But President Donald Trump has made no bones about linking the two. This is why the two most-watched diplomatic events of the past year or so – the negotiations over the US-China trade war and Trump-Kim summits – have been so heavily intertwined. The two issues are part of a three-way chess game between China, the US and North Korea, one that in recent months has involved diplomats frequently shuttling between the three countries for talks. Trump, a property tycoon turned president known for being results-oriented, sees everything as a commodity that has a pr
Trump-Kim meeting: 3 things to watch out for
A little more than eight months after they first shook hands, Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un will meet this week for a second time to continue their talks about denuclearization. The leaders of the United States and North Korea first met in June in Singapore, where they agreed to the “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” That wasn’t the first time North Korea had made that promise – the country signed a denuclearization deal with its southern neighbor as early as 1992, and has made similar pledges in the years since. Obviously, Trump and Kim wouldn’t have had to meet last year if any of those pledges had been met. As they prepare to meet in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Wednesday and Thurs
The day Kim and Duterte came to Hong Kong
Two strongarm Asian leaders met up in Hong Kong over the weekend. But North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-un and Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte weren’t in town for a political tête-à-tête. Instead, they got together to attend Mass, snap selfies and grab some fried chicken. Well, it wasn’t actually the two leaders. Instead it was a pair of celebrity lookalikes, who caused a storm nonetheless. Kim Jong-un impersonator Howard X has made several appearances in Hong Kong, but it’s the first time he’s appeared with “Duterte,” played by a performer who goes by the stage name Cresencio Extreme. The Duterte impersonator caused a scene at the Sunday service at St Joseph’s Church in Hong Kong.
North Korea tried to separate Canada and the US
North Korea has mounted a back-door bid to peel Canada away from United States-led efforts to apply “maximum pressure” on Pyongyang until it relinquishes its nuclear weapons. During a rare visit to Canada North Korean officials complained that by maintaining its own sanctions against their country, Ottawa was following Washington and not acting as an independent nation, the South China Morning Post reported. Canadian media reported earlier this month that a five-member delegation from North Korea had quietly met with Canadian officials in September, but details of the North Korean side’s perception of Ottawa have not been revealed until now. The revelation of Pyongyang’s behind-the-scenes ma
China wants the US and North Korea to meet ‘halfway’
North Korea and China appear to be further cozying up to each other as a crucial new round of denuclearization talks nears.  President Xi Jinping of China accepted an offer to visit the North Korean capital of Pyongyang after he met with the country’s leader Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s state media reported on Thursday. And Xi effectively vouched for what North Korea considers its denuclearization effort, which the US hasn’t deemed sufficient progress for it to ease its crippling sanctions against the country. “China supports the DPRK’s continued adherence to the direction of denuclearization on the peninsula, supports the continuous improvement of inter-Korean relations,” Xi was quoted as say
Kim Jong-un checks in with China before meeting Trump
On his 35th birthday, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un took a trip to China. But this was no destination party. He arrived in Beijing by train on Tuesday for what are said to be talks with Chinese leaders in preparation for his second meeting with President Donald Trump. Besides, unlike his predecessors, whose birthdays are public holidays in North Korea, Kim has not been known for marking the occasion with anything ostentatious since he took office in 2011. The trip comes at a delicate moment in the relationship between North Korea and the United States. Denuclearization talks between the countries have stalled, even as Kim said in his new year speech that he was willing to meet with Trump
He built a career on North Korea. Now China’s come for him
As a young man from Alberta on a trip to Seoul in the late ’90s, Michael Spavor picked up a Lonely Planet travel guide and came across a few pages about North Korea in the back of the book. He was instantly hooked. “It was the most interesting part of the whole book,” he told current affairs magazine Maclean’s in an interview in 2013. Spavor set out to find out more. He not only learned fluent Korean, but also spent more than a decade living in and around North Korea. His cultural exchange business took visitors from around the world – including ex-NBA star Dennis Rodman – to the isolated northeast Asian country. And he even became personal friends with Kim Jong-un, the leader of the hermit