North Korea has much to fear from the entry of goods from China.
South Korean DVDs and CDs, even soft-core porn movies made in the South, are now distributed surreptitiously throughout North Korea. Electronic gadgetry, MP3 and MP4 players, TV sets, radios and rice cookers, also shipped via China, are also available for those with the money to pay for them.
"The most important invasion is from China," said Ha Tae Keung of NK Open Radio in Seoul. "It gets around the whole country." North Korea can do little to stop such trade in view of its dependence on China, its only real ally.
Much of the traffic in electronic products and food is done surreptitiously with goods sold on the black market, often to members of the North Korean elite.
North Korean trade last year reached US$3.8 billion, not including trade via sea with South Korea. That figure represents a jump of nearly 30% in trade with China.