The Hermit Kingdom's Bizarre SAR

Li Hyok knows big changes are coming to this backward North Korean city situated on the banks of the Yalu River across from China. He has heard that Kim Jong Il, North Korea's enigmatic dictator, intends to turn Sinuiju into a special economic zone. Li and the 4,000 other employees of Sinuiju Shoe Factory are hopeful that the promised boost in commercial activity will improve their meager lot. "This is all for the Korean people," Li says, standing among middle-aged women piecing together black and white sneakers on noisy sewing machines. "It makes the Korean people richer, with more to eat,...

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!