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Love This Vibrant Border Town City So Much!

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya,

Mate, from the moment I got off the bus the other day I have loved this city! Put everything from a big city into a small one and add in the North Korean border!

The principal gateway to North Korea (Chaoxian) from China, Dandong has a buzz unusual for a Chinese city of its size. Separated from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) by the Yalu River (Yalu Jiang), Dandong thrives on trade both illegal and legal with North Korea and like many border towns there’s a raffish air to the place. There’s also a mix of cultures, with a strong Korean influence.

While outside the city there’s the little visited easternmost stretch of the Great Wall of China which runs parallel to the border with North Korea.

Previously known as Andong and Antung, is a city in Liaoning Province, Northeast China. It lies on the border between China and North Korea, which is marked by the Yalu River, and is the largest border city in China and to the southwest of the city, the river flows into Korea Bay. The city has therefore had a dynamic history because of its strategic location for the northeast's rich natural resources and because of its convenient access to the ocean.

For most visitors to Dandong, this is as close to as they will get to the DPRK.

While you can’t see much, the contrast between Dandong’s lively, built up riverfront and the desolate stretch of land on the other side of the Yalu River speaks volumes about the dire state of the North Korean economy and the restrictions under which its people live. It’s no wonder that thousands of North Koreans try to cross the one thousand three hundred kilometer frontier between China and the DPRK illegally every year.

So many that in 2006 the Chinese started to erect a fence north of Dandong.

It’s no exaggeration to say that without China, the North Korean regime would not survive. The DPRK relies on China for food, fuel and arms. For China, keeping North Korea’s leader Kim Jung-il, in power is a way of maintaining the delicate power balance in North Asia, where South Korea and Japan are both strong allies of America. Equally important though is the fact that the DPRK is a captive market for Chinese companies and one worth an estimated US two billion a year.

Dandong is the hub of Sino-North Korean trade.

Local Chinese websites advertise business opportunities across the border, North Korean officials come looking for raw materials and machinery, as well as access to Chinese markets. But there’s also a thriving black economy too. Due to a UN resolution that bans the export of luxury goods to the DPRK, everything from cigarettes and mobile phones to TV’s and furs makes its way across Yalu River. This illicit trade is having a significant impact on life inside the DPRK. Mobile phones enable people to communicate outside of their local areas and in some cases, abroad (they are supposedly officially banned).

The Yuan is now an alternative currency to the inflation-prone Won in many regions and if and when North Korea does open its doors to the outside world, China will be ready to take full advantage.

<u>History</u>

Maps and artifacts suggest that the area has been settled since the Zhou Dynasty. The area became known as Andong County in 1876. Andong means 'pacifying the east’ reflecting the power projection that China had over Korea at the time. It was occupied by Japan after the start of the first Sino-Japanese War in 1894. During the Manchukuo era it was the capital of Andong Province, one of the fourteen provinces established by Manchukuo. Then, in 1907, it was opened as a treaty port. It adopted its present name on January 20, 1965, which means &#8216;red east’ to avoid connotation of its previous name, which was considered imperialistic by some. Recently, the city has been gaining influence in this region of China because of its market with North Korea and the government’s future plans to develop the city into a special &#8216;Border Economic Cooperation Zone’ for export and import, in order to expand the country’s ability to conduct trade.

<u>Yalu River Park</u>

The Yalu River is the boundary river of the People’s Republic of China and DPRK. It originates from Changbai Mountain in Jilin Province, crosses Liaoning Province and two water channels of North Korea and meets Huanghai River at the Port of Dandong. It extends for nearly eight hundred kilometers, accompanied by beautiful scenery all the way. It reminds people of the long history of Yalu River, the rise and fall of the past kingdoms, the war against Japanese invaders, the Russian-Japanese War and disasters, etc.

<u>Broken Bridge (Yalujiang Duanqiao)</u>

For views of the border stroll along the riverfront Yalujiang Park that faces the North Korean city of Sinuiju or to get half a river closer you can actually take a stroll along the bridge to where it abruptly ends. Duanqiao Bridge was the first bridge over the Yalu River and was originally a railway bridge. Measuring almost nine hundred and fifty meters long and eleven meters wide with twelve piers for support, Duanqiao Bridge once moved sideways by a ninety degree angle at the fourth axis pier to make way for passing vessels and liners.

In April of 1943, the year when Northeast China and Korea were invaded and occupied by Japan, a second bridge was built by Japanese on the upper reaches of the Yalu River, about one hundred meters away from the Duanqiao Bridge. From November of 1950 to February of 1951, intense bombarding of the two bridges by the US troops to cut off the supply lines from China to Korea left the first bridge (Duanqiao Bridge) in ruins. Only four piers of the bridge on the Chinese territory were remained, thus it acquired the name ' Duanqiao', meaning a severed bridge.

It is protected for its historical and cultural significance.

Repair work of the bridge started in 1993 as it was seen as a site to bear witness to the war fought in Korea and was given its name 'Duanqiao Bridge across the Yalu River’. The bridge was painted light blue as a reminder of the colonial rule by Japan and the war of invasion as well as people's sincere hope for peace around the world.

All bullet holes and scars have been left as a testimony to the War.

<u>Jinjiangshan Park</u>

Jinjiangshan Park is one of the largest parks in Dandong and from the two pagodas’ at the top it also offers the best views of not only the city but also the North Korean border. Filled with winding tree lined trails it is the perfect place to spend a hot afternoon. Like most parks in China it is part amusement park with several amusement rides found scattered around the park but sadly there are also monkeys, lions etc that can be found half alive in waterless, grassless and lifeless cages.

But on the other hand if you are as lucky as me you might just get to see a bride and groom along with the wedding partly board Dodgem Cars with bags of water bottles (bride with flowers of course) in hand and for the next ten minutes do the best to not only smash the bride and groom from the car but drench them prior to.

<u>Eating</u>

Here in Dandong you can spend your nights eating Korean or Chinese etc or if you are like me and come across a western menu once every year or two then there are several western caf&eacute;’s to be found.

It’s not often that I ever give advice on where to eat nor do I ever actually really say where I eat except for roadside Beer N BBQ along with sipping ElcheapO coffee at KFC or McD’s when I’m blogging (like right now in fact) but at the end of LiuWei Lu (or 6 street) that ends down at Binjiang Lu that runs along Yalujiang park, you will find Pete’s Caf&eacute;. Or as I dubbed it Hallelujh Pete’s due to the &#8216;nice’ music that’s always played and the talk of &#8216;Believing’ etc that can faintly be heard in the back ground.

Pete’s as an awesome western menu and one that made me return several times.

For the atheists such as myself no one ever approached me about the topic of Religion but sadly what co-insides with such a thing is the fact that they don’t serve beer. The staff is more than friendly and whilst forever keeping my water glass full dropped in to say hello.

Beers N Noodles toya…..shane ___________________________________________________________

The soundtrack to this entry was by Jazzhead. The album was &#8216;Ears For Civil Engines’ ____________________________________________________________

Jinjiangshan &#38;amp; Yalu River  Border

Jinjiangshan &#38;amp; Yalu River Border


Jinjiangshan &#38;amp; Yalu River  Border

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Jinjiangshan &#38;amp; Yalu River  Border

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Jinjiangshan &#38;amp; Yalu River  Border

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Jinjiangshan &#38;amp; Yalu River  Border

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Jinjiangshan &#38;amp; Yalu River  Border

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Jinjiangshan &#38;amp; Yalu River  Border

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Jinjiangshan &#38;amp; Yalu River  Border

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Jinjiangshan &#38;amp; Yalu River  Border

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Jinjiangshan &#38;amp; Yalu River  Border

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Jinjiangshan &#38;amp; Yalu River  Border

Jinjiangshan &#38;amp; Yalu River Border


Jinjiangshan &#38;amp; Yalu River  Border

Jinjiangshan &#38;amp; Yalu River Border


Jinjiangshan &#38;amp; Yalu River  Border

Jinjiangshan &#38;amp; Yalu River Border


Jinjiangshan &#38;amp; Yalu River  Border

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Jinjiangshan &#38;amp; Yalu River  Border

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Jinjiangshan &#38;amp; Yalu River  Border

Jinjiangshan &#38;amp; Yalu River Border

Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China

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