September 6, 2014:
Russia is rebuilding its ties with North Korea and it is doing it on the cheap. From the late 1940s to the early 1990s Russia supplied North Korea with economic, military and diplomatic support. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 caused an end to the economic and military support that had cost Russia over $100 billion since the late 1040s. Halting that aid led to a decline in North Korean military capability because supplies of new (and free or very low cost) Russian weapons and equipment ended. The loss of economic support, especially food, led to massive starvation and the deaths of nearly ten percent of the population.
Russian diplomatic relations remained and North Korea could continue to rely on Russian support in the UN and other international forums. Russian media continued to put a positive spin on what was going on in North Korea, no matter how horrid the reality was. Since 2000 the Russian government has again taken control of their mass media and that means more positive stories about North Korea and virtually no negative ones.
While the Russians never resumed economic and military aid, they have done a growing number of trade deals with North Korea. This includes investments in North Korea and hiring North Korean to work just across their mutual border and the Russian Far East. These North Koreans are paid via their government, which keeps most of the money. Even with that these workers are making a lot more than they could in North Korea and eat better as well.
Russians have become more affluent since the demise of the Soviet Union and now more Russian tourists are visiting North Korea and spending a lot more money than the few Soviet era Russian visitors ever did. Russian influence inside North Korea is not as strong as it was during the Cold War but it is a lot cheaper. Moreover, Russia appears to be making a profit out of its North Korean activities now, a big change from the past.