AF says one part of the border consists of nothing more than a creek so it feels very close and it's all that's keeping North Koreans in. (Any kind of customs?) There are several bridges along the river where North Koreans and Chinese are allowed to cross legally, but increasingly there are family visits being allowed. (How does that work? Does someone say they're going to visit and then stay or is it someone making a run for it?) it's a bit of both actually. There are a lot of illegal defectors and those people often swim through icy waters at night and then go into hiding in China. but there is new this fledgling middle class who says they're going to visit people in China and leave legally and while they're there they use the opportunity to begin to trade. and with the new capital they get from trading, they don't rely on the state to provide for them, because the state doesn't provide. (One person your profiled is a man who was fairly young when he left North Korea). He was young, entrepreneurial who during the famine lost most of his family to starvation. He tried to survive for the family and started to make noodles and sell the noodles, some for his family and some to sell. He was then stopped by the police and he was shocked by this. He became very disillusioned and escaped back into China and then went back to get his wife. (So what's the fate of people like this? Do they tend to stay in China or do they go to South Korea?) It's a dilemma, they don't want to stay in China where they're staying illegally and if they do run afoul of the law they can be repatriated which can involve incarceration. Many of them do want to get to South Korea or even the US so China is a temporary measure.
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