Bribes allegedly grease the wheels for Chinese truckers at backed-up Laos border gate

A long line of trucks on Laos' Route 13, which leads north to the Chinese border, is seen in this file photo.

Chinese truck drivers at the Lao-Chinese border are bribing traffic police in Laos to skip extremely long lines of trucks that are waiting to get into China, Lao truck drivers told RFA.

COVID-19 protocols in China are causing major delays at the border. Only 150-200 trucks from either side are able to pass over in a day. RFA reported last month that the trucks must be sprayed three tim

In North Korea, a sack of flour separates haves from have-nots

Flour is now 3 times costlier than rice, and people who can afford bread are seen as well-to-do.

A loaf of bread has become a status symbol in North Korea as prices for flour have increased so sharply that only the wealthiest citizens can afford it, sources in the country told RFA.

Throughout Korean history, white rice has reigned supreme as the basic staple that signified wealth, and poorer people would mix their rice or replace it completely with cheaper grains like millet.

In the case of N

Teachers in Myanmar caught in crossfire as conflict rages

At least 40 educators have been killed between February 2021 and May 2022, the junta says.

Teachers who joined the nationwide Civil Disobedience Movement demonstrate against the military junta, in Myanmar's commercial hub Yangon, Feb. 19, 2021.

UPDATED at 10:18 A.M. EST on 2022-07-15

Schoolteachers in Myanmar, many of whom joined a national strike to protest the ruling military regime, have been increasingly caught in the crossfire following the February 2021 coup that overthrew the elected g

A lack of smuggled oil is complicating North Korea’s efforts to catch smugglers

Patrol boats that trawl the seas to catch illegal shipments use illegally imported fuel themselves.

In a file photo, a North Korean patrol boat watches over fishing boats in waters west of Hwanghae province, North Korea.

North Korea has been forced to cut the number of patrol boats it sends out to catch smugglers and illegal border crossings–due to a shortage of smuggled fuel, sources in the military told RFA.

Pyongyang has long sought to prevent people from leaving the country. But its level

Starvation becomes a side effect of North Korea’s struggle to contain COVID

The government is forcing ‘volunteers’ to feed families of patients in quarantine but doesn’t offer any extra food.

The Choson Sinbo newspaper, affiliated with the primary Zainichi North Korean resident group in Japan, reported June 10 that mobilized volunteers in Pyongyang are providing daily necessities to quarantined residents who are restricted from moving due to COVID-19.

The increase of COVID-19 cases in North Korea is creating knock-on hardships for the families of patients, as the loss

Cambodia’s commune campaign to test country’s electoral integrity

The June 5 races won’t shift the power balance but may affirm support for a newish opposition party.

Commune counsellors line up to cast their vote in a Senate election in Takhmao, Kandal province, Cambodia February 25, 2018. Cambodians will vote for the next batch of counsellors on June 5, 2022.

Cambodia will launch a two-week election campaign for local commune councils Saturday, a contest for grassroots bodies that won’t tip the scales of power in a country autocratic Prime Minister Hun Sen

Conflict between Myanmar’s proxy forces may outlast a political resolution

Violence is creating bad blood between the groups, whose fighters are often residents of neighboring villages.

Pro-military Pyu Saw Htee militiamen and anti-junta People’s Defense Force (PDF) paramilitaries are engaged in what will likely become a protracted conflict in Myanmar with no formal process in place to mediate between the two civilian proxy armies, an analyst said Wednesday.

In September, Myanmar’s shadow National Unity Government (NUG) declared war on the junta and ordered allied PD

Uyghurs in exile use art to combat China’s cultural genocide back home

A musician, singer and a painter try to tell the story of Uyghurs’ rich past as they inspire a new generation.

Classical performing artist Shohret Tursun said he realized early on that his native Uyghur culture was on the brink of obliteration in Xinjiang, as he watched in horror as fellow musicians and other Uyghur friends were detained or disappeared by Chinese authorities starting in 2017.

From exile in Australia, Tursun did his best to counter China’s efforts to wipe away Uyghur culture by

Laos shrugs as villagers lose farms to dam reservoir

The government says the displaced residents have received all the compensation they are due.

Resettlement village with popular traditional-style houses for villagers affected by the Namkhan-3 dam in Luang Prabang province, Laos in a 2019 file photo.

Developers who built Laos’ Nam Khan 3 dam have not compensated farmers who lost crops to rising water in the reservoir, sources living near the dam told RFA. A Lao government official said the displaced villagers were unlikely to get any more money

As North Korea’s economy struggles, disabled soldiers suffer more than most

The state calls them ‘honorable soldiers’ for their sacrifices but does not have the resources to support them.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his wife Ri Sol Ju inspect the Wonsan Disabled Soldiers' Bag Factory in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on July 25, 2018.

North Korean soldiers who were injured during their service are now unable to depend on the state to care for them due to worsening economic conditions, sources in the country told

Foreign companies turn Cambodian mountain into gravel

Villagers living near Ta Kream Mountain say the government is failing to protect Cambodia’s natural resources.

Satellite images in sequence, dating from 2014, 2017, 2019, 2020 and October 2021, that show changes in the landscape at Ta Kream mountain in Cambodia.

Chinese and Vietnamese companies are grinding Cambodia’s Ta Kream Mountain into gravel, ruining its natural beauty and causing respiratory problems for area residents, villagers told RFA.

Environmental activists and villagers told RFA

Gas graft: smugglers defraud Laos of taxes on 700 million liters a year

Citizens in Laos are calling for accountability after learning that gasoline smugglers and enablers in the government are defrauding the country out of taxes on 700 million liters (about 185 million US liquid gallons) of gasoline per year, sources told RFA.

Prime Minister Phankham Viphavanh revealed the extent of gas smuggling in an address to the National Assembly last week.

Laos is mired in perhaps its worst gasoline shortage in its history, exacerbated by rising prices, a lack of foreign cu