Pence Cartoon: “WARNING: Fishing by Permit Only”

Explanatory Note

Gregory Pence’s latest cartoon for Daily NK comments on a recent incident involving Chinese fishing boats and a North Korean patrol vessel. On Aug. 11, a North Korean patrol boat reportedly fired on a Chinese vessel fishing illegally in North Korean waters off of South Hwanghae Province. In the aftermath, three Chinese fishermen were killed. There have long been tensions between North Korea and China regarding fishing areas, and this recent incident may have been exacerbated by another violent episode in July where Chinese ships rammed a North Korean patrol boat near Sinuiju. Such hostilities have arisen in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which continues to play a role straining Sino-North Korean relations. This past May, for example, Daily NK reported the increased presence of Chinese boats fishing illegally in the DPRK’s waters due to the absence of North Korean vessels. Landbound as a result of COVID-19 restrictions, North Korean fishermen fear the depletion of fish stocks by Chinese overtrawling. The DPRK’s present-day economic woes and widespread food scarcity only compound this fear. In the past, China has routinely defied UN sanctions by purchasing fishing permits from North Korea; however, the brazen disregard Chinese fishermen have shown their North Korean counterparts reflects a broader trend towards Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea and elsewhere. Indeed, Chinese fishing boats ram Vietnamese and Filipino vessels with alarming regularity. Apart from undermining the economies of other countries reeling from coronavirus, Chinese overfishing devastates local fishing ecosystems as well.

Views expressed in this cartoon do not necessarily reflect those of Daily NK.

Gregory Pence
A former Fulbright researcher of Korean protest art and propaganda, Pence has scribbled cartoons for a variety of publications. He presently lives in Seoul with his wife and a cat. Visit his website (, or check him out on Instagram (@soundstage.comics) or Twitter (@sixpencenow).