On November 24, 2017, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang told reporters that the Sino-North Korean Friendship Bridge will be closed temporarily in the “near future” while North Korea undertakes repairs to the road surface on its side of the bridge. Geng did not provide a specific date for how long the bridge would be closed but simply stated that “[i]t will be reopened after the repair is finished” and provided no further details such as the nature of the repairs. 1 While this announcement sounds like a routine report, as the bridge is sometimes closed for maintenance, there is speculation that it is an effort by China to bring pressure on North Korea over its continuing ballistic missile and nuclear weapons development programs.
In October, it was reported that North Korea was secretly operating factories inside the Kaesong Industrial Complex without notifying the South Korean government. Satellite imagery shows that while there may be some token industrial activity occurring, the complex is not operational in any real sense of the term.
Between August 29 and September 1, 2016, Typhoon Lionrock poured a foot of rain onto parts of North Korea causing widespread flooding, the most severe being near the Tumen River.
Heavy rains triggered by Typhoon Lionrock hit the northern part of North Korea in late August. Extensive damage to infrastructure and agricultural fields occurred as a result. Examining satellite imagery is helpful in assessing the extent of flood damage.
Dandong, China, remains the epicenter of cross-border economic transactions between China and North Korea, where regular boat, railway, and road traffic is witnessed.