In the north, the market price of rice and corn rose about fifty percent. Part of this was due to heavy monsoon rains that caused damage to farms and crops. But mainly there's a shortage of imported food. North Korea has cut off free food aid from the UN, insisting that North Korea has sufficient food. This is not true, but truth doesn't matter in the north. Massive starvation looms, but the government does not seem to be doing anything.
Meanwhile, desperate for foreign currency, North Korea has taken over South Korea tourist facilities (a resort and a large restaurant) that were closed by the North Korean government earlier this year. This sort of thing will discourage any further investment in North Korea, especially by South Korean firms. But what South Korea really fears is a North Korean agreement that would allow massive Chinese investment in North Korea. The Chinese investments would be safe, because the Chinese would not hesitate to send in troops to deal with any North Korean misbehavior. Large scale Chinese investment in the north would enable China to eventually take control of North Korea, and annex it. Many starving North Koreans would prefer to be prosperous Chinese, while North Koreans who opposed such an arrangement would be killed. China is still a communist police state, and knows how to act like one. This Chinese takeover would solve China's problem with the growing economic decline and political instability in the north. The South Koreans are horrified at the thought, although China has taken control of the north before (in the distant past). China would apparently prefer not to have control of North Korea, but the growing problems there will not go away.
North Korea is going to have more problems with foreign currency, and their perpetual shortage of it. The U.S. is imposing more sanctions on North Korea, the same kind that annoyed the North Koreans so much five years ago (and were lifted when North Korea agreed to talk about their nuclear weapons program, but nothing came of those talks). This time around, the U.S. will try to shut down North Korean access to the international banking system. China can help North Korea get around these sanctions, but not completely. North Korea is not happy with these new sanctions, because they really hurt, especially when it comes to importing luxury goods for the tiny ruling class in North Korea.
The North Korean security forces continue their crackdown on all sources of dissent. This includes illegal churches. Dozens of clergy and lay leaders belonging to Christian sects have been sent to prison camps, where many of them were executed. The North Korea secret police have worked out an agreement with their Chinese counterparts to crack down on cross-border crime. This includes corruption among border guards from both countries, and smuggling in general. Corrupt practices are well entrenched on both sides of the border, and will probably be impossible to eliminate. But the corruption can be suppressed for a while, and that's apparently what's going on here.
North Korea has moved several of its elderly SA-5 missile launchers to bases near the DMZ. Back in the 1980s, North Korea bought twenty launchers, several radars and 350 SA-5 missiles from Russia. They have apparently kept some of this stuff operational, as American and South Korean electronic monitoring equipment occasionally picks up the signals put out by the SA-5 system search radar.
August 9, 2010: North Korean coastal artillery fired about a hundred shells into the Yellow Sea, just north of the South Korean border on the west coast. Some fish died, but there were otherwise no injuries. This was seen as a protest against recent naval exercises by South Korean and American forces. These exercises, and protests, have been going on for over half a century.