Rough times for smugglers who knitted N Korea to the world

  • Ng Han Guan / Associated Press file photo A North Korean woman washes clothes along the banks of North Korea across from the Chinese border town of Jian in northeastern China's Jilin province in this file photo.

JIAN, China — The small-time smugglers who long helped secretly knit North Korea to the outside world have seen their work plunge since ruler Kim Jong Un came to power, as a handful of large, well-connected Chinese businesses have taken over the trade along the Chinese border.

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