Blood and Iron: Signs of Revival in DPRK-Russia Rail Trade

By | June 27, 2022 | No Comments

The notion of a friendship “forged in blood”, though most frequently used in the context of China-DPRK relations, has been employed more frequently of late in North Korea-Russia diplomatic discourse. The rhetoric of a blood alliance is nothing, however, if not reinforced concretely. After over two years of virtually no trade between North Korea and Russia, the two sides appear ready to revitalize their economic partnership through increased overland rail service.

Though the pandemic was the main culprit in the veritable suspension of DPRK-Russia economic ties, sanctions also had a notable role in this state of affairs. How a diplomatically and economically beleaguered Kremlin will view sanctions enforcement related to North Korea in an era Russians often refer to as their “new reality” (in reference to the economic and political effects of the invasion of Ukraine) is something to watch as Moscow and Pyongyang appear ready to resume pre-pandemic commercial activities. 


Russia and North Korea Plan to Renew Rail Service Through Border Passage in Primorye. Interfax, June 24, 2022[1] 


Moscow, June 24. INTERFAX.RU – Russia and the DPRK plan to renew rail service interrupted by the pandemic through the Khasan (in Primorye)-Tumen River (DPRK) passage, according to the Ministry of Far Eastern Development’s press office.

During a videoconference last Thursday, the head of the Ministry of Far Eastern Development Aleksey Chekunkov and the DPRK’s Minister of External Economic Relations Yun Jong Ho, speaking as co-chairs of the Intergovernmental Commission on Economic, Scientific, and Technical Cooperation between North Korea and Russia, discussed the issue of renewing and expanding trade and economic cooperation between Russia and North Korea, which has been disrupted by the pandemic.

The framework of the Intergovernmental Commission includes subcommittees on the forestry industry, transport, scientific and technical cooperation and regional collaboration, as well as working groups on temporary work activities, electrical energy and trade and economic cooperation.

The two sides agreed to restart the sub-committees’ activities ahead of the tenth regular session of the Intergovernmental Commission, which is expected to be held in Pyongyang.

“Aleksey Chekunkov and Yun Jong Ho noted the importance of the renewal of rail service between Russia and North Korea through the Khasan-Tumen River passage. The North Korean side is currently finishing up the construction of a disinfection facility, which will allow us to renew trade activities. The two sides also discussed the issue of the further implementation of a cross-border automobile bridge spanning the Tumen River,” according to the press release. 


Original article published by Interfax News Agency. Translated by Anthony V. Rinna.


[1] Source: Russia and North Korea Plan to Renew Rail Service Through Border Passage in Primorye (“Россия и КНДР планируют возобновить железнодорожное сообщение через погранпереход в Приморье”),

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