We’re in Ji’an, another town on the North Korean border, and site of the ancient Koguryo Kingdom’s former capital. The historical sites were fascinating to see, and the small town is extremely pleasant to walk around. So pleasant, in fact, that one wonders if China is just trying to show off to its erstwhile neighbor. The town’s central park, located right on the bank of the Yalu River dividing the two countries, features dozens of fountains, a collection of kids’ rides, and well-manicured grassy spaces, all overlooked by fancy-looking apartment blocks. All of this sits in plain view to the North Koreans across the narrow river. There, on the opposite bank, three or four hamlets, each consisting of a dozen or so small wooden homes, lie quietly at the bottom of steep hillsides. The comparison is striking.
Tag Archives: Jilin 吉林
We’re outside of Tumen, an aptly-named town on the Tumen River, in a little slice of China squeezed between Russia and North Korea. The people here, largely of Korean ethnicity, go about their day speaking, reading, and eating Korean. Speaking to them in Mandarin, it sometimes sounds like Chinese is a second language for them, too. They’re glad to be citizens of China – a stone’s throw across the river here is North Korea, a country that really nobody on earth wants to be part of.