So far, this book has primarily been a work focused on developmental communities and processes, which have long roots in human history but have only in the last few centuries become intense industrial processes, which have stripped the world’s waters of their lively matters. For the most part, this narrative has been one of plenty and presence, the developing capabilities of human societies and institutions to harvest fish and other creatures of the sea, this development in tandem with changes and growth in those societies and their structures. Readers will have encountered the transformation of societies and their practices of extraction from semi-feudal to mercantile to late capitalist and neo-liberal. Classical empires have been built across Asia and the Pacific, only to disintegrate and collapse and have new empires of fishing and extraction replace and build on their ruins. Technological development and the unending quest for profit and accumulation have transformed the seas, oceans and coasts of the world to just that, ruins, ruins which both humans and sea life must live among. While this narrative certainly sounds unrelentingly bleak and destructive, this book and its author are not so naïve as to assert that this is the end of the story.

If Geography’s ruin-turn has imparted anything to the field it is that ruins and destruction are not the end of the story. Our planet’s web of life, as Moore understands it, whether impacted by the energies of capitalism or non-capitalism cannot simply be negated, but constantly transforms and reconfigures itself under the pressure of accumulation and other human processes.Footnote 1 Just as weeds, grasses and other life colonise redundant, broken, derelict sites of industry or alien viruses, bacteria and other pests colonise new territories as climate change and global temperature rise transform our global ecosystems, so denuded and degraded waters will harbour new forms of sea life. Humans will learn to interact with, use and accumulate these new species and forms just as they have always done and through practices, the reader will already have encountered, of fishing down the trophic level, are in reality already doing so. I do not suggest a biological equivalence between historic, contemporary and future forms of life, just as I do not suggest a moral equivalence on the part of humans and societies for having at least in part created these situations. It would be better for the planet if such degradation had not and did not happen, ecosystems and ecology, after all, develop best at slower temporal frames, more geologic than anthropocentric. But this is, as many assert perhaps a new era, the Anthropocene, or more correctly, the Capitalocene.Footnote 2 In this new epoch, species and ecological development will exist outside of the frames of ungoverned or directed nature, influenced by the energies of capital of all times, a product of consumption, accumulation, extraction and waste as much as by evolution or natural selection.

Matters in this era are no less energetic or lively than they have been in previous eras. If anything they are more energetic, as they are not simply the drivers of natural processes, but elements vital to the functioning of the processes and practices of capitalist logic. Vibrant and energetic matters have become important parts of the construction and functioning of our new world, their energy driving both the physical materialities of that world, and values and prices within it. Of course, fish and sea life are one such category of those matters, vital as food for humans and for animals, for chemistry, industry and medicine. While not quite the energetic material that corn and its by-products have found themselves to be in our world, seafood and other products of the sea are deeply important to many of the processes of our modern age. I began this section by talking about destruction and degradation, key processes at play in the economy and development of our age, and processes that pivot on the transformation of living materials from a state of abundance to states of scarcity. Scarcity economics are of course familiar in our times. Scarcity sets prices, creates value and drives innovation in our economies, or at least that is the theory. Scarcity is itself an important and vibrant political matter in our global geopolitics. As readers will already have encountered when reading this book and thinking about North Korea’s place in world politics and economics, scarcity in a society is now taken as a sign of governmental failure and incapability. Only failing, illegitimate governments and economic systems have overt scarcity which is not mitigated by the abundance of something else. North Korea is conceived of, in global popular, political and media discourse as a place of scarcity and therefore not legitimate in some way as a nation. Commentators have even in the past accused North Korea of even deliberately starving its own people, denying them sustenance as a means of control and of power. Intriguingly whether or not this is true, or wilfully true, the assertion that North Korea might not be capable of feeding or sustaining its own people has been weaponised by those who seek to change, overthrow or negate North Korea, in a way which itself a means of control and of power. The reality is that of course things are scarce in North Korea. It is a nation whose entire political and economic support structure collapsed in the early 1990s, it was subjected to a period of acute environmental and institutional failure because of this and because of a series of climactic misfortunes and its political system and ideology has required much of the energy and capital generated by the nation and its people over the last few decades to be spent developing military capabilities. Further to these things, North Korea is subject to some of the most fierce and disabling sanctions regimes yet constructed in the global legal system; so things are certainly scarce.

Fish in this nexus of scarcity and lack are vital for their energy and vibrancy. As readers will have seen at moments in which North Korea has found it very difficult to access the finances and material support to engage in developmental activity of the conventional sort, fish have seemed to it like a bountiful commons to be exploited, without cost or material input. Of course, this isn’t true in a way, as the seas open to North Korea do not have a great many fish, and there is certainly a level of material, financial and technical input required to go fishing. However, it seemed that way to North Korea, and fish and the energies of their matter have entranced the institutions of Pyongyang as a means to mitigate scarcity and lack. Putting aside for a moment the fact that there is a general and verifiable scarcity of fish in this hypothetical global commons, created for the most part by the stripping of life from the sea by industrial fishing, North Korea has seen fish as a way out of its protein and other food resource problems. And here is the connection with one of the most extraordinary intersections between scarce resources, the vibrancy of potential and community in North Korea, and the power of its political ideology, a connection which really demonstrates the power of these watery energies.

Readers will be familiar from the preceding chapter and chapter four with the historical importance of fishing in North Korea’s developmental history. They will also be familiar with the rising importance of fishing and extracting other resources from the sea and coast to North Korean political and developmental narratives since around 2013. North Korea’s fishing enterprises and communities have been repeatedly called by Kim Jong Un and government institutions to project greater effort, time and resources to fishing matters. The KPA has also been primarily tasked with the responsibility for this, to the detriment of course of conventional communities and cooperatives such as those considered in the previous chapter. Readers will remember the huge role played by the KPA in North Korean development since the early 1990s and will perhaps be aware of the huge cost placed on the government finances of possessing such a large military capacity, as well as the development of nuclear capabilities.Footnote 3 Essentially it is possible for North Korea to fund its military and the various responsibilities it holds out of core government finance or income generated or extracted from overseas. So to an extent, the North Korean military, like its foreign embassies and diplomatic services must not only pay their own way and not be a financial burden, but must make a profit to increase the funding available for core state, party and leadership activities and the ambitions of the country to be a nuclear power. KPA Fisheries Stations are thus part of this financial and governmental order, required to generate not funds through the sale of fish for central government, but also profit for the specific Army and Navy units to pay wages, provide food and suitable accommodation for soldiers and staff, to channel funds to regional and national institutions who might support institutionally and bureaucratically their efforts. This is of course hugely difficult given the number of restrictions North Korea is under through UNSC sanctions and other legal frameworks, as well as the ecological and environmental crisis in the seas surrounding it and more widely across the globe. While the North Korean KPA and other institutions have certainly made efforts to develop their fishing capabilities and skills over recent years, it is important to remember that primarily they are military and governmental institutions of a country hugely lacking in governmental capacity and resource. The KPA and its Fishery Stations are therefore under considerable and increasing pressure to go to sea more often, for longer, with more resource and more effort than before and to catch more fish from waters which have less and less resource. This is a fundamental case of lacks meeting lacks, absence encountering absence and it has produced one of the most truly macabre developmental outcomes in recent years.

Japan has long been concerned about infiltration and espionage from North Korea. Ever since the dramatic and unprecedented spate of kidnappings and abductions from its shores by North Korean military operatives in the 1970s (to both fulfil a practical need for Japanese language translators in North Korea and occasionally the esoteric needs of its leadership which further poisoned relationships between the two countries), Tokyo has been protective of its coastline.Footnote 4 After 2010 Japanese media, public and government institutions were extremely concerned then when a series of wooden, derelict boats with Korean identification marks began to wash up on the shores of western Japan and Hokkaido. Later finds of North Korean materials such as flags, a Kim Jong Il pin badge and military insignia suggested that these were from North Korea. It was doubted that such boats were attempts at defection or escape from North Korea, though a few North Koreans had tried in the 1980s to sail to Japan, due to the enmity between the two countries and because it would have simply been easier for these boats to aim for South Korea, which is considerably nearer and less troublesome to navigate to. In 2011, Japanese Coast Guard statistics recorded that 57 boats had washed ashore, and this was the start of an increasing number of boats over the years, peaking in 2013 with some 80 boats and in 2017 with 99 boats.Footnote 5 These boats were often of extremely rudimentary and primitive wooden design, with, where still present, very old and badly maintained outboard engines. While there were a few instances of crew surviving the journey to Japan, for the most part, and the most macabre element of this developing story, the crews were either missing or dead.Footnote 6 A large number of the dead bodies of North Koreans thus have come to Japanese shores by these means, sometimes badly decomposed, sometimes reported essentially as skulls or skeletons by the time they washed ashore, indicating that whatever had happened to them, it had been a very prolonged period of time since they had set to sea and come to grief.Footnote 7

To date, there are very few answers surrounding the nature of the boat crews’ ambitions, identities and the background behind what has created this terrible outcome. North Korean authorities to date it seems have not divulged details for any of the instances, and as North Korea and Japan have no bilateral relations formally, no repatriations of bodies or other materials have occurred. It is suggested that all of the increasing pressure from the central government and institutions in North Korea on the KPA, other institutions and perhaps even local communities (being pressured by their local or regional Party bodies), are forcing either soldiers, sailors or civilians to go to sea to catch fish when they do not have the capabilities, training, knowledge or resources to do so.Footnote 8 Fishing as an occupation is one of the more dangerous livelihoods on the planet, and historically, even with experience, training and resources behind them fishing communities have had many losses globally. The crews of these ‘Ghost Ships’ as they are termed, have set off in search of the bounty of the sea, with inappropriate boats for the currents and weather they will encounter, little navigational knowledge, no equipment for communicating in case of difficulty, very little food or sustenance and little resources to support them. They have set off it seems in search of the vibrant matters of the sea, only to be overcome by the powerful energies of the water. Japanese coastal communities and institutions to make something of an understatement have found these instances traumatic and frightening, yet to date have had little reassurance that the problem is reducing. Ghost Ships and their spectral crews continue to haunt the harbours and coasts of western and northern Japan, victims of intense developmental urges from what is essentially an enemy across the waters.

How do we as academics, as publics, as humans even begin to frame such a horrible, miserable outcome? These North Korean Ghost Ships are lively matters in the geopolitical and regional political networks of northeast Asia, the bodies, skeletons and other human materials of their crews are political and energetic objects in the own right. The derelict boats and craft washed up on remote beaches, moored precariously at the edge of Japanese harbours are essentially waste material by-products in North Korea’s contribution to global efforts to extract the resources and lively matters of the sea. They are perhaps by-products, which represent the level of human wastage and collateral damage that its institutions are prepared to tolerate in the rush to extract value from the sea, while that value still exists. They are complicated, troublesome, upsetting and traumatising materials of course, deeply problematic for the nations which surround North Korea to deal with. So far, the vast bulk of the instances of their arrival has been on the shores of Japan, while they could of course also be washing up on the beaches and coasts of China and the Russian Federation, if they have the media and government agencies of those countries have not reported on them. Our response surely must also be human, as well as political or focused on security. These unlucky fishers and sailors are of course citizens, fathers, sons and friends who will never see their families again, never see their homeland again, no matter how politically complicated a place that is. Their bodies, due to the disconnection between Japan and North Korea will never be repatriated to their home country, and so their mortal remains intersect with the cultural, social and political traditions of Japan. Japan is of course well versed in encountering and managing the bodies and materials of living things that are complicated and difficult to cope with given spiritual and cultural norms. This author, in particular, suggests revisiting the work of Jakobina Arch encountered earlier in this book, and her recounting of Japanese communities management of the bodies and burials of whales and foetal whales in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.Footnote 9 Little has been said so far of what actually happens to the bodies and human material washed up with these Ghost Ships on the shores of Japan, save for one story focused on the town of Monzen (門前町), in Wajima municipality (輪島市). Monzen had three Ghost Ships wash up with a number of bodies in December 2015, and after various bureaucratic issues, the municipality authorities found they could not afford the $13,500 cost of disposing of the human remains.Footnote 10 The Los Angeles Times reports that Wajima authorities arranged for the bodies of the North Koreans to be cremated and their ashes interred at Soujij, a Buddhist Temple on the outskirts of Monzen.Footnote 11 It is unlikely that the North Koreans whose bodies they were would have been in any conventional terms, Buddhist, yet their physical materials have become part of the sacred geography and commemorative architectures of Japanese Buddhism. Kayoi village in Yamaguchi Prefecture (山口県) as Arch records has a Buddhist shrine, grave and commemorative geography which presumably has much in common with that of Monzen. Kayoi’s sacred geography, in common with Monzen in our present, also possesses the bodies of visitors involved in fishing who are as alien as the bodies of those North Koreans. They are the bodies of foetal whales caught by its whaling crews by accident, in contradiction of the Buddhist practice of their time and necessarily entombed and named on memorial headstones to atone for the whalers mistakes and give the souls of the unborn whales a chance to become little Buddhas, like all those creatures in existence who have had a chance to live. It is entirely impossible that the dead North Koreans of Monzen and elsewhere could ever be thought of, like the whales of Kayoi, as ‘mizuko’ 水子, but the heart of their and many other crews of these Ghost Ships, unfortunate stories is that they become as lost as the ‘water-child’, trapped not only at sea, but in the place as lively matters, caught seeking other vibrant materials in an even more energetic and impossible watery geography. Perhaps, this abstraction of the bodies of unlucky North Korean fishermen into a frame in which they can be encountered in commemoration and remembrance in a similar manner to other complicated or uncomfortable materials in the complicated watery interactions that make up global and historical fishing practise is a difficult connection for readers to make. However, these fishers, even more unknowable and diffuse than Sindo and other North Korean fishing communities surely are owed a modicum of compassion and a place at least somewhere on land. The ghosts of the Ghost Ships are for this author the most extraordinary contemporary element of this books story, and that which requires the most extensive research in the future and to which he will certainly return.

The reader will certainly have travelled some distance through this book and its engagement with the lively matters of fishing. The irony is not lost on the author, that one of the final energetic materials with which connections are made in this book are the dead bodies of unfortunate North Koreans, which are lively in the politics of the region and the difficult relations between the two neighbouring countries, in spite of their lack of life. Fishing is about life and death and always has been so. Humans sustain their own lives and the lives of their families and communities through the harvesting of the lives of creatures of the sea, whose own dead bodies become vital and powerful materials in the global web of life. While their living bodies certainly have energy and are vital to the geographies and ecosystems below the waves, their vibrancy once caught, processed and prepared has been extraordinary.

This book has explored the role of fish, fishing and products of the sea in the political, economic and cultural lives of coastal communities in a huge temporal and geographic scale. Readers will have encountered the development of human interest in fish and the creatures of the ocean from the very earliest time until the present. The book has ranged widely across the planet, yet has primarily focused on fishing in Asia, specifically on the Korean peninsula and neighbouring nations. This book has thus explored the development of Japan from one of the first ocean-going nations, whose economic and cultural landscapes found creatures from the sea hugely important for food and other materials and who sometimes incorporated the bodies of those creatures that had been caught into the structures of towns and villages, as well as commemorative and sacred architectures. Equally the book has recounted the development of China, as one of the pioneers of river fishing and aquaculture, a nation focused on taming a complicated and troublesome hydrology, and when it did so would become one of the world’s great civilisations. Both nations were of course hugely powerful in their own ways, yet both had complicated histories and experiences of colonisation and modernisation at the hands of mercantilism and capital. Japan, in the long run, was initially more successful and used the experience of colonial and imperial power to develop its own unique form of colonisation. Since it was an ally of Britain and the victorious powers in the War of 1914–1918, Japan was granted trusteeship of the former German South Pacific territories, now Palau, Micronesia, the Northern Mariana Islands and the Marshall Islands. Possession of these territories allowed Japan to experiment with and develop its capacity for deep sea fishing and industrial processing, particularly at Saipan and gave it an extensive area of territorial waters over which it could exercise control. As history records, Japan would go on to build an empire across the Pacific, which was both a classical imperial project on land and an ‘Empire of Fishing’ at sea. The Korean peninsula would become a hugely important part of that empire of course.

Later, following Japan’s defeat by the United States and its allies in 1945, Japan’s reach over the Pacific would be briefly restricted before it was allowed to grow again, in tandem this time with America’s own imperial ambitions and desires to hold back, restrict and if possible roll back communism. The United States had global ambitions after 1945, not just for imperial domination in the classical sense, but for economic imperialism, reframing what was possible in social and political terms in many nations so that it would best fit American political and business interests. Extraordinarily as readers will have encountered this meant sacrificing the interests of its own fishing industries and canneries so that freedom of the sea and freedoms of navigation could be maintained across the globe. This framing of the deep sea and the wider oceans, especially in the Pacific as open territory, a global commons, suited the interests of a fishing industry who with a new statistical methodology rooted in the claims that not only were the fish in the sea knowable, but they were quantifiable using scientific and mathematical methods. Such methods gave rise to the notions of surplus populations and Maximum Sustainable Yield which building on much scientific research over more than a century, corrupted fisheries science for political and economic ends. While they did so, they created the availability of investment capital which transformed the technology involved in the fishing processes. Ships became larger and larger, refrigeration was put to use so that the problems of spoilage and decay were no longer a concern so those larger and larger ships could put to sea for longer and longer and travel further and further. Motherships were developed as floating factories so that fish caught by a fleet of smaller ships could be processed and packed without ever having to touch land and could then be landed at the nearest and most convenient market. These preparation technologies even revolutionised the form that fish were actually eaten in, from fillets and cuts of whole fish, to processed fish sticks and fish fingers, a key part of a developing convenience economy and society. Where once fishing was a matter of chance and luck, technologies such as sonar and radar developed which allowed fishing boats to see fishing populations from above and to best target their technology. In more recent times, these technologies have been superseded by GPS and Remote Sensing from satellites, so that fish movements and stocks can be tracked from space, a panoptical developmental technology rooted in the observation-security complex of our modern world.

Korea was a nation a little out of line with the fishing histories and narratives of China and Japan. Never a country of the deep sea, fishing practices and communities had been restricted by political and economic developments, by spiritual, religious and social ordering, so that fishing was very much coastal in nature and fishing communities disparate and peripheral. Korean fishing communities themselves were not hugely impacted by the Japanese colonial period, as the Government General of Chosen was primarily concerned to import Japanese fishing people and technology onto the Korean peninsula rather than transforming local practices. Korea’s waters long contested and impacted by external and foreign fishers and agency were regarded as under pressure by Japanese colonial authorities and even restricted fishing boats from mainland Japan. It is unclear whether the Pacific War of 1941–1945 or the Korean War of 1950–1953 were positive periods for fish populations, as was the case during the First and Second Great Fishing Experiments (as European researchers referred to them), in the North Sea and North Atlantic between 1914–1918 and 1939–1945, no one ever thought to engage in the research necessary to discover whether fishing stocks increased in the West and East Seas in these times of conflict. This was even after the fact that Japan’s colonial authorities sought to include Korea and its waters within the wider framework of Tokyo’s research network. After 1945, both Koreas were hobbled somewhat initially by the fact that Japanese fishery institutions and fishing people retreated to mainland Japan with their fishing boats, and then whatever infrastructure was left was further degraded during the destruction of the Korean War. Both Koreas since their independence have seen fishing as one of the developmental imperatives which would bestow legitimacy and authority upon them during the Cold War. South Korea after the 1950s with American support and with Japanese capital became one of the world’s global fishing powers, its boats and ships seen in seas across the globe. North Korea, of course, has always sought to extend its fishing power across the globe, in tandem with other socialist and communist nations such as the Soviet Union, the People’s Republic of Poland and the German Democratic Republic. This author has often said what could be more socialist or utopian than literally creating new land from the sea, but dominating the seas of the world would surely be another key goal for any bonafidé utopian national project.

North Korea’s ambitions at sea have never really come to fruition. Despite technical, bureaucratic and financial support from the Soviet Union, the People’s Republic of China and a number of other ideological allies, Kim Il Sung’s repeated calls to increase production, develop new infrastructure and built larger and more capable boats somehow never seemed to be heeded by reality. The vagaries and contradictions of central planning and both ideological changes and development meant that the most concrete and well-laid plans somehow always went awry. The Japanese colonial administration had through the importation of a large amount of Japanese labour, financial focus and Imperial drive increased the volume of fish and marine products landed on the peninsula an extraordinary amount; it is unclear in the history of North Korea whether the final pre-war figures for colonial Korea (even accounting for reduction in territory), for 1939 and 1940 have ever been matched. North Korea certainly has talked and written its way into considering itself a great and aspirational fishing nation of the world, but the reality, as unclear at times as it has been, is that this is not the case.

In the present, however, this book has repeatedly asked the question, what is left in the waters of this world for there to be a great fishing nation of. Industrial fishing rooted in the statistical framework and presumptions of the American century and the Cold War Empires of Fishing has essentially asset stripped the past, present and future of our oceans. In reality there is little left to catch that has already been extracted from the waters, coasts and seafloor. The fishing methods and practices of the twentieth century guided by the panoptical gaze provided by satellite and remote observational techniques have not simply reduced the populations of fish and other species to a fraction of what they have historically been, they have transformed the geographies of the sea and the seabed. Deep sea trawling has flattened and reduced the ecosystem of the ocean floor, from a complex and complicated topography of coral and other deposits, built not only by geologic and sedimentary time, but by the combined efforts of polyps, worms and molluscs, to often flat deserts devoid of life, but perfect for the interminable scraping of trawling gear. Industrial fishing has even transformed fish and human perception of fish. Fish which are attractive and valuable to the global fishing industry are not in reality allowed to live anywhere near the normal life spans, so do not in general reach anywhere near their historic potential size. So the fish of our present, really are not the same fish as those of our pasts and human perception of them has radically altered. In the twenty-first century, we read historic accounts of fish and fishing in which authors recount the huge size of some species and the incredible abundance and presence as fantasy, fish are simply not that big and it is ludicrous to us for them to suggest that there might be so many that the water itself might no longer seem liquid, that it might be possible to walk over the backs and fins of so many creatures. While humans loom larger than life in our anthropocentric times, fish are very much smaller, their geographies and topographies taking up a great deal less space.

This is the reality of the science and the watery geographies of this book, that the vibrant and lively matters and the spaces of fish and other creatures of the sea are reduced, smaller, degraded, and perhaps a little less energetic. Another key element of this book has focused however, on the fact that while this may be true when it comes to their own bodies, the routes and spaces of their own lives under the sea, fish and fishing practices are still every bit as energetic, vibrant and vital to those communities and people who seek and make a livelihood off them. Jane Bennett’s theorisation of the vibrancy and energy of matters is certainly reflected in the ‘thing power’ of fish and aquatic creatures, even at their most degraded, in the web of life encountered by the author during the fieldwork and research for this book. The Chinese communities of the Liaodong peninsula who are beset by a number of vibrant and energetic matters in the present, such as speculative Capital, the physical materials of urban development and the powerful politics of contemporary China certainly still seek to harness the power and value of fish, sea life and aquatic vegetation. While communities like Tong Shui Gou (通水沟) and Yanchangxincun (盐场新村) are pressured even in their peripheral locations by powerful external energies, the vibrancy of materials and matters from the sea mean that it is worth for their communities navigating a complex and precarious path to continue to attempt the harvest of whatever bounty remains below the waves. Gageodo (가거도) in South Korea and its fishing communities, long extremely peripheral to national institutions and infrastructures, have continued to seek the lively matters of the sea. The residents of Gageodo do so even as subsistence or conventional fishing from the island is challenged by the pressures of tourism and the islands precarious place in South Korea’s security framework, close to Chinese waters and shipping lanes. Complicated as their connections to the mainland have been, Gageodo’s fishers have been freed from the yoke of the Kaekchu, commission tradesmen, but find themselves now facing new restrictions from climate change. The least visible and accessible community of this book, Sindo (신도군) and its fishing cooperative are also challenged by multiple practical environmental challenges, but with them face many of the developmental problems which concern other North Korean developmental communities. Institutional disinterest, bureaucratic and financial failure, ideological change and political reconfigurations, have seen smaller fishing communities in that nation replaced in the developmental hierarchy by the fishery stations of North Korea’s military. Yet the vibrant matters of the sea for North Korea following the 1990s seem even more lively than before. The value of the watery commons is huge for a country so restricted by economic, political and environmental factors, it has been vital for Pyongyang to seek more fish from the sea to replace the protein and calorific values lost by agricultural collapse elsewhere. It has been vital for North Korea’s sense of its own legitimacy and authority as a nation to take to the waves and to find ‘seas of gold’, even if those seas are not necessarily in their own economic zone or national waters. Yet North Korea, of course, has found itself further restricted and cut out of global maritime markets by the complex and thick framework of sanctions placed upon it in recent years, having to find new and novel ways to continue connecting with the vibrant energies of the sea.

Ultimately North Korea’s fishing communities continue to live, even precariously, but they also die, as the reader will have encountered in this final chapter in the shape of the macabre and spectral geographies of the Ghost Ships. While the human remains and bodies of North Koreans washed upon on distant Japanese shores are some of the most lively and energetic materials of all connected to the sea in regional politics, these are not the materials this book wishes to end with (though in classic academic style, more research is certainly needed on them). The fishers of Sindo and other communities in North Korea though unknowable and inaccessible in many ways continue to seek the vibrant and lively materials of the sea, even as those materials become sparser, thinner and more disparate. In framing their places, spaces and experiences throughout this book as but part of a longer historical frame, a wider conceptual network and a geographic neighbourhood which connects them rather than regarding North Korean people and places as detached, the author hopes to have inserted a new sense in the readers mind. Instead of disconnection and isolation, North Korea’s fishers and fishing communities are very much part of their regional neighbourhood, and in fact, a neighbourhood which encompasses the whole planet. The entirety of this neighbourhood faces dramatic, perhaps insurmountable challenges in the future, as all of us humans, animals, plants and other residents of the planet do, but the vibrant energies, the ‘thing powers’ of the materials and beings that make up our global web of life will keep enticing us to continue engaging, continuing to harness their liveliness.