Dandong, the Largest Border City


I told many of you I would go to the North Korean border… and I did! Over a month ago (yeah I’m slow) we had a school trip to Dandong, the largest city on any Chinese border. It literally rests on the river that divides China and North Korea so it was pretty interesting.

Our first stop was the river as we were to go on a boat ride where we can get a look at North Korean workers on docks and get pretty close, which was a bit exciting. The boat ride was cool and relaxing so I just enjoyed it and looked around.

The second thing we did was go to a section of the great wall that is in Dandong so you can even get a better look into N. Korea.  The stark difference between it and China are not surprising.  The photos don’t show the Chinese side too clearly, but imagine it’s a built-up city, full of high rises. Think of the American-Canadian border at Niagara Falls but even more extreme. Yeah, I made that comparison.

There was as surreal aspect to being able to see anything N. Korean.. for many N. Korea is somewhat of an enigma shrouded in mystery and the feel of a real life 1984.  While looking down at decrepit buildings that were surely mostly empty, I contemplated how close the whole Korean penninsula was to being just like the northern half.  I mentioned this to a Korean classmate who speaks English fluently because he studied in New York, and he said he actually never thought about “how close” the south was to being the same. I thought this was slightly insane, but I’m not Korean, so I suppose my opinion isn’t wholly valid.

After the wall we were able to walk under the wall and over to the closest point on foot you can get to North Korea. While tempted to make a funny, I’m also not stupid. As you can see, the border isn’t guarded here or anything because frankly, if China finds any NK refugees they will send them back. Nevertheless many Korean escapees do make it into China, only to be exploited or abused by Chinese because they can threaten telling the authorities which would have the poor soul deported and then likely put into labor camps.

North Korea in a way, is a modern day Third Reich but it seems no one wants to help.. why does democracy and human rights only matter when a country has oil? I thought about this a lot when I was here.

Our last stops before returning were to eat, a park, and to see a place where many movies and historical dramas are filmed. It’s an area with many “old” traditional style village buildings. I don’t know if they were ever actually lived in, or if maybe just a few caretakers live there but it was pretty interesting. They had a goat, too.. and he was pretty chill.

The park was pretty and had some traditional-style buildings. It’s similar to those in Qianshan so I didn’t include so many photos of that. I included more unique monuments and interesting things that were different including one scenic area stop that had the character 干 all over the place. 干 (gān) can have few meanings but here it’s “to do”. Apparently the Chinese people interpret this character in this context as “JUST DO IT!”

Shia Labeouf has got to go here.. it’s practically a Chinese monument to him… or Nike.


Anyway, I still need to get the rest of my winter travels here.. especially before summer travels. The next city will be Tianjin I believe.


Laowai Shye



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