Buy Freedom

The first glimpse of hell appears around a forested bend in China's northeastern Jilin province. Up ahead, the Yalu River narrows to a weed-choked span just 20 meters across. On one side is gaudy Changbai, a Chinese city with neon-tinted karaoke lounges and rowdy bars. The other side looks like a sprawling concentration camp, with barrackslike buildings and barbed wire strewn about. This is the North Korean town of Hyesan. A giant sign on a hill above the riverbank proclaims: "Long live General Kim Jong Il, Sun of the 21st Century!" But the 21st century doesn't appear to have graced Hyesan...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

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