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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...

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