Running on Empty

In the North Korean city of Chongjin, destitute citizens practice the rituals of fear with nearly religious fervor. The air-raid sirens sound regularly, signaling residents to block their windows with blankets and stay indoors. Local officials make sure every household has stashed emergency supplies in rucksacks in case the call comes to evacuate to underground shelters carved into a nearby hillside. An essential item is the homemade gas mask that women sew from plastic bags and strips of cloth. North Koreans have no duct tape.

They are accustomed to warnings that the American bombs could at any moment...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!