Merging Boundaries

Ian Teh

A 1,000 kilometre road-trip along the Sino-Russian -North Korean border exploring the surreal intersections between three very different communist bastions.~~Every day, busloads of Russians cross into Chinese border towns like Suifenhe and Dongning to buy cheap Chinese goods. They are entrepreneurs, here for business. The items available range from textiles to timber to scrap metal. However, behind this buzz of legitimate commerce there is a parallel economy of black market trade, prostitution and organised crime that has turned the border region into a seedy no-man's land.~ ~In contrast, the North Korean border is deadly quiet due to ongoing famine. This tragic situation across the Tumen River means there is a regular influx of North Korean refugees crossing into China. There is a climate of fear as the Chinese authorities catch and repatriate North Korean immigrants on the streets of North Eastern Chinese cities.

Merging Boundaries is a 1,000 kilometre road-trip along the Sino-Russian-North Korean border, undertaken in several stages between 2000 and 2007. The tense atmosphere in these border towns, especially in the tri-border city of Hunchun, reflects the underlying pulse of the region's problems. They are artificial places, special economic zones created from governmental mandates. ~In Merging Boundaries, the surreal intersections between these three communist bastions constitute the photographer’s rich, colourful playground.

 

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      CHINA

      Road to the Sino-Russian-North Korean border.

      © Ian Teh

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      New residential complex by the North Korean border.

      © Ian Teh

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      Looking towards the Russian border.

      © Ian Teh

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      Ice skating rink on the Sino-Russian-North Korean...

      © Ian Teh

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      Waitress in a restaurant on the Sino-Russian-North...

      © Ian Teh

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      A Russian prostitute in a bar in Suifenhe City.

      © Ian Teh

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      Labourers on the streets of Suifenhe City.

      © Ian Teh

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      Chinese and Russian businessmen share a drink close...

      © Ian Teh

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      Luxury massage parlour on the Sino-Russian-North...

      © Ian Teh

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      Karaoke hostesses in a bar on the Sino-Russian-North...

      © Ian Teh

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      Chinese businessmen on the Sino-Russian border.

      © Ian Teh

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      Russian prostitutes with Chinese Army personnel on...

      © Ian Teh

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      Entrance to a brothel in Hunchun.

      © Ian Teh

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      A man walks through the city at night on the...

      © Ian Teh

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      A woman smokes in a hotel on the Sino-Russian border.

      © Ian Teh

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      Bus bar on the Sino-Russian border.

      © Ian Teh

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      A bilingual welcome mat at the Sino-Russian border.

      © Ian Teh

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      A KTV venue on the Sino-Russian-North Korean border....

      © Ian Teh

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      Hostesses in a bar in Qitaihe.

      © Ian Teh

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      Railway leading to the Russian border.

      © Ian Teh

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      The border town of Dongning at night.

      © Ian Teh

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