The U.S. Navy shadowing a North Korean cargo ship suspected of carrying weapons bound for Burma is the stuff of potboiler thrillers. Yet for two of the world’s most reclusive and repressive states, the only unique feature of these events is the fact that anyone is taking notice. For several years, Burma’s ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) and Kim Jong Il’s government in North Korea have been slowly strengthening their diplomatic and military ties, largely beneath the international radar.

– Extracted from Kay Seok and David Scott Mathieson, “Allies in Paranoia and Repression”, Far Eastern Economic Review, 3 July 2009. The authors are the North Korea and Burma researchers respectively for Human Rights Watch.