Bob Woodruff’s daring 880-mile journey along the China-North Korea border examines the delicate relationship between the two countries and the United States.
North Korea’s border with China: an uneasy alliance and a fear of war.
Bob Woodruff and Karson Yiu report: It was almost 65 years ago when North Korea and the United States agreed to a cease-fire. The guns stopped firing, and the planes stopped dropping bombs, but the war did not officially end. It was settled with an agreement, an armistice, that since 1953 has maintained a fully armed face-off along the 38th parallel. North Korean soldiers still stare at U.S. and South Korean forces across the 2-mile-wide Demilitarized Zone much as they have for decades.
To this day, North Korea is the most isolated country in the world. The DMZ, which divides North and South Korea, has gotten most of the media attention over the years, as it separates almost 28,000 U.S. troops from their enemies to the north.
I have been to North Korea eight times in the past 12 years, but on this trip, I wanted to explore the reclusive country’s 880-mile border with China. The border largely follows two rivers: the Yalu in the south and the Tumen in the north. Both flow from the same source: a dormant supervolcano straddling the border — known to the Chinese as Changbaishan and to the Koreans as Mount Paektu.
It is a crucial trip because China is North Korea’s only remaining ally and never before has North Korea been such a threat. The country’s mercurial leader, Kim Jong Un, is close to developing a nuclear missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland. China could change this reality significantly.
The changing relationship with North Korea’s lifeline.
The relationship between China and North Korea has always been complicated. China’s communist leader Mao Zedong famously said that the two countries were “as close as lips and teeth,” a relationship forged in blood and steel during the Korean War against the United States.
ABC News’ Bob Woodruff discusses exploring North Korea’s 880-mile border with China for a documentary.
It is true that these allies have stood side by side for many decades, but it is clear that their relationship is changing quickly — mostly since Kim took over from his father in 2011.
Economically, 90 percent of North Korea’s trade is with China, which means this border is the lifeline of the North Korean regime, a regime that China does not want to fall. The Chinese government fears that the sudden collapse of North Korea could spur a mass migration of people over the border, in a blow to China’s economy. More important, for all these decades, North Korea has served as a buffer for China, keeping U.S. and South Korean forces far from its own borders.
This 880-mile voyage along the border lasted six days and took us to five cities; it was filled with both beauty and unexpected moments.
We started in the city of Dandong, a bustling, unmistakably Chinese hub of commerce and condos on the southern end of the border. This is where … (read more)
via ABC News