Last week my brother visited us in China. We decided to make a road trip to the North Korean border (it’s only about 400 km from where we currently live). We didn’t want to cross into North Korea itself, but visiting the border area near the town of Ji’an in Jilin province was really interesting.
The border area is located in a mountainous region and spring hadn’t really started yet. The natural surroundings were still stunning and we loved the fact that the place wasn’t yet overrun with tourist groups.
We followed the Yalu River, which marks the border between North Korea and the PR China, upstream and could see North Korea’s 6th largest city, Manpo, and other North Korean villages from the Chinese side.
It seemed unbelievable that although the river wasn’t very big and you could see people walking around from either side, crossing isn’t an option for most of those on the Korean side. Watching the setting for a while, we saw one car, two small trucks, two trains, a handful of bicycles and one or the other motorbike. The majority of people walked by foot, some from the town to villages further down the road (which still seemed to be quite some distance apart).
Although the whole setting looked very peaceful, my husband noticed the presence of what looked like fighting holes on the North Korean side. Also, the mountains on the North Korean side all looked quite barren and lacked the plants and trees we could see on the mountains on the Chinese side. According to my husband, Manpo and the surrounding villages don’t have electricity.
Right next to the border crossing on the Chinese side, organic strawberries are grown in greenhouses.
I’m not sure as to the current situation, but Chinese have been able to visit Manpo during the day via the border located at Ji’an in the past. My husband told me that people could bring as much stuff as they wanted to with them to the North Korean side, so some people would fill their suitcases with instant noodles and other food items and just leave them somewhere for locals to pick them up.
Have you ever traveled to this area? What was it like?