Share this on Twitter Share this on Facebook Share this on LinkedIn Share this on Sina Weibo Share this on Wechat Share this on LinkedIn Illustration by Ryan Olbrysh It was a stifling hot July day in 1992 when Qian Qichen, China’s foreign minister, took a helicopter to the lakeside villa of Kim Il Sung, North Korea’s leader. Qian was used to uncomfortable situations — he had sparred with Brent Scowcroft three years earlier after the massacre at Tiananmen Square — but this trip was uniquely sensitive. Qian’s task was to deliver a message to Kim from his boss, Jiang Zemin, explaining that China had decided to establish diplomatic relations with South Korea — a country that, at that point, wasn’t even shown on the maps produced in China. It was a shocking betrayal. The Korean War enemies didn’t exactly see eye-to-eye: China saw South Korea as the traitorous neighbor that had resisted communism and fled into the arms of America, and South Korea saw China as an aggressive invader that should not be trusted. But following the end of the Cold War, China and South Korea emerged as awkward trading partners. And as South Korea’s eSubscribe or login to read the rest. Subscribers get full access to: Exclusive longform investigative journalism, Q&As, news and analysis, and data on Chinese business elites and corporations. We publish China scoops you won't find anywhere else. A weekly curated reading list on China from David Barboza, Pulitzer Prize-winning former Shanghai correspondent for The New York Times. A daily roundup of China finance, business and economics headlines. We offer discounts for groups, institutions and students. Go to our Subscriptions page for details.