Since the end of the Korean War (1950-1953, concluding with an armistice rather than a peace treaty), Pyongyang’s
main ally has been Beijing. The friendship is visible in international assemblies in which China takes positions favourable to North Korea but is rooted in economic support for the various members of the Kim family who have assumed power. In addition to petrol, technology, transport, infrastructure and arms, China provides monetary aid to North Korea. Since the end of the conflict, assistance from China has enabled the North Korean regime to survive, including enduring the terrible famine of the 1990s. Because the state was incapable of feeding its own citizens, Pyongyang allowed small private markets to develop that have survived to this day with varying success.

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