Andrei Lankov sees limits to Beijing's willingness to pressure its ally Pyongyang, despite Chinese opposition to nuclear proliferation.
The move is aimed at bringing more foreign investment into the country's sanctions-hit economy.
State security agents hunt defectors, illegal cellphones, and banned media in areas damaged by Typhoon Lionrock.
Some in the country's agriculture business wonder how Pyongyang can advance its nuclear program, but can't prevent a flood.
Restricted movements and tightened inspections aim at reducing troops' involvement in smuggling and illegal border crossings.
The country explodes another nuclear device, then seeks aid for a natural disaster.
Show of U.S. support for ally Seoul comes as Washington dispatches top envoy on North Korean affairs.
Foreign affairs experts say the rogue nation will likely continue its nuclear buildup, however.
Heavy rains have destroyed bridges and roads and left farmland in the country's northern provinces under water.
The blast—the second carried out this year—is estimated to be North Korea's most powerful yet.
Even common phrases, spoken ironically, are seen as implying criticism of the regime.
The group will support special rapporteur Tomas Quintana in finding options for accountability for rights abuses in the DPRK.