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The VICE News guide to North Korea

VICE News has been tracking North Korea since our inception. In light of the recent brinksmanship between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, here’s some of our coverage from the past year to help you unpack the ongoing crisis.

How did the Hermit Kingdom get so good at nuclear weapons tests? Well, it turns out North Korea “likely copied the design of its nuclear testing site from the United States.”

Watch: What Nuclear War Would Look Like

Even President trump knows that China is the diplomatic elephant in the room when it comes to North Korea. In April, Trump said, “China will either decide to help us with North Korea, or they won’t — if they do, that will be very good for China, and if they don’t, it won’t be good for anyone.”


So what does Beijing think about their unruly neighbor? According to our sources, China may be willing to pressure Pyongyang with sanctions but they’re concerned about a crisis that could lead to “millions of refugees spilling across the Chinese border.”

Watch: How North Korea Smuggles Nuke Missile Parts

But why haven’t sanctions worked so far? The Kim regime has developed complex methods of evading international financial pressure including involvement in the illegal production and trade of meth, counterfeit currency, and ivory. Despite legal blockades, officials in Pyongyang somehow manages to smuggle in parts for nuclear weapons and missiles, as well as luxury Mercedes Benz automobiles.

Watch: Satellites Help Predict Nuke Tests

Life seems pretty bad in North Korea, why won’t the citizens revolt? Well, our reporting shows that there is “a growing class of relatively well-off citizens” who have access to smartphones, decent food, and all the trappings of a middle class lifestyle. They even spend time online updating their Facebook and looking for porn.

Follow VICE News for more updates on this developing story.