After a two-year break, railway communication between Primorye and the DPRK resumed, the first freight train went through the border crossing Khasan (Russia) – Tumangan (North Korea), the press service of the Far Eastern Railway reported.
The first train, the report says, sent 30 thoroughbred horses to North Korea in three special wagons. The next shipment is scheduled for the delivery of medicines in containers.
At first glance, it seems strange that they did not start with medicines. But political scientists believe that under the current conditions, the initial supply of thoroughbred horses to Koreans has become a symbolic gesture that added “pepper” to the Americans. The Yankees have long dreamed of making the DPRK their trophy. But the Korean horse may turn out to be a Trojan horse for them.
In addition, subsequent supplies to the DPRK of medicines, food, and other things will no longer look like just help to one of the countries in need, but like friendly support and, at the same time, cooperation on a mutually beneficial basis.
“There is some symbolism hidden in the supply of thoroughbred horses to Koreans. But in general, the opening of an international railway connection between Russia and the DPRK is a very important and positive step on both sides, – believes political scientist, Korean scholar Alexander Zhebin:
– This country has been closed since January 2020, for quarantine reasons no one was allowed in. Then the Koreans began building disinfection centers on the borders with China and Russia to ensure that shipments were disinfected, just in case. The resumption of railway communication will help us, firstly, to resume those economic ties that are not prohibited by the UN Security Council resolution.
Here we will certainly talk about the provision of some kind of humanitarian, say, food aid to the DPRK. Russia supplied North Korea both on a bilateral basis and through the World Food Programme. Under the current conditions, when the DPRK has shown solidarity with Russia’s actions in Ukraine, it would be quite natural to provide humanitarian assistance to North Korea in the form of food, primarily grain, of which we have an abundance. In addition, it is difficult to deliver it somewhere. There is no such problem with North Korea.
I think it would be quite appropriate and quite reasonable to carry out such deliveries. There are other possibilities as well. North Korea has traditionally been a fruit supplier to the Russian Far East. Why not resume this practice?
And there are a number of other industries, well, and most importantly, the resumption of international communication is a very important sign for all participants in economic activity – new opportunities have opened up for the work of our economic foreign trade organizations, which is very important in the current reduction in the number of our external economic partners. Let’s hope that our enterprises, our business will find those areas of work with the DPRK that will be mutually beneficial.
“SP”: – The activation of relations between the Russian Federation and the DPRK will cause dissatisfaction with Western countries, in particular, the United States?
Yes, because the Americans have always disliked our cooperation with North and South Korea. There is such a well-known American specialist on Asia, on Korea Stephan Blank. So, he somehow admitted in one of his articles that Washington’s policy for decades has been to minimize Russia’s influence in Korea. But this should not interfere with us – you never know what and who does not like it. Korea is our neighbor, we have long-standing traditional ties – political, economic, cultural. By the way, Russian is taught in schools in North Korea, no one forbids it there. And our feature films are very popular in this country, especially on military-historical subjects. For example, the Koreans could not be torn off from the film “Seventeen Moments of Spring”, they admired it.
For the new year in the DPRK, the tradition is to show the film “The Irony of Fate, or Enjoy Your Bath!” So, from the point of view of soft power, we have been present there for a long time and firmly. In a difficult time for us, when for many years in a row our artists practically did not go anywhere, they were not invited anywhere, tours to the DPRK actually saved our world-famous artistic groups, such as Beryozka, the Igor Moiseev Folk Dance Ensemble, the Pyatnitsky Choir. It is due to the fact that the previous leader of the DPRK Kim Jong Il in the most difficult years for us, he invited these groups, they retained their repertoire and, in many respects, their creative composition. Their performances were a huge success with the Koreans – full houses, the presence of the country’s top leadership, Kim Jong Il himself. It is a pity that this page of the history of our cultural ties is little known in our country.
“SP”: – Now, probably, the culture of production is more relevant – here we have something to learn from the Koreans?
“They had to focus on missiles because they had no other way to protect themselves. But Korean youth is very capable, talented in many areas. It is not for nothing that Americans are moaning about North Korean computer scientists who allegedly pose a threat as hackers. Indeed, their success in the field of IT technologies is obvious.
For example, a number of film companies have placed orders with North Koreans for individual elements for motion pictures and cartoons using computer graphics. Even for people like The Lion King, part of it was made in North Korea precisely because it was high quality, cheap and fast. So, there are opportunities for our cooperation in the new conditions, when both countries have become the object of unprecedented sanctions.
Of course, the problem is that these are different sanctions. North Korea is not only an object of American and other Western unilateral sanctions, like Russia. North Korea is also the object of international sanctions, as they say, legal – the UN Security Council. Although, personally, I have always opposed the introduction of some of these sanctions, because it directly contradicted our interests.
SP: For example?
– This is a ban on the use of our workforce from the DPRK. After all, it was a skilled, disciplined labor force that created a certain balance in the foreign working environment, especially in the Far East. At one time, we agreed with the Americans and the Chinese, who wanted, so to speak, to punish the DPRK for nuclear tests in 2017.
And what came of it? It turned out that it is much easier to accept a UN resolution than to cancel it. Our attempts, together with China last year, to cancel or somehow soften these resolutions fail because of the position of the United States. And because of these resolutions, the possibilities of cooperation with the DPRK are very limited. Nevertheless, the opening of a railway connection with the DPRK is a very positive signal both for Korean enterprises and for our business, our state corporations. Many of them already had established ties and joint projects with North Korea. And, perhaps, this step will now allow us to return to practical work on their implementation.
– For the development of railway communication between the Russian Federation and the DPRK, it is necessary to have an appropriate infrastructure for both passenger and freight traffic, serviceable rolling stock, and the presence of a combined gauge. It is possible that the DPRK is expecting Russia’s help in resolving these issues. leading expert of Finam Management Management Company Dmitry Baranov:
– So, the combined gauge (1435/1520 mm) is already available on the territory of the DPRK, it may need to be extended inland. It is possible that the DPRK needs to upgrade its rolling stock, in which domestic machine builders can provide assistance, both for passenger and freight traffic. At the border station (Khasan) in the Russian Federation, it may be necessary to lay narrow gauge tracks (1435 mm) in order to receive trains from the DPRK.
Also at Hassan station, it may be necessary to expand the infrastructure to reduce the time for passenger service and cargo handling. Now it is necessary to establish the rhythmic work of railways on both sides of the border, modernize the border crossing, and unify the rules and regulations for all types of transportation. This will further increase the volume of freight and passenger traffic between countries, reduce travel time, and improve the quality of service for passengers and cargo owners.