North Korea


  On June 23, 2015, I took a plane for a business trip without knowing my destination. It is only during a 5 hours ride from Shenyang airport I Google'd my destination of Ji'an (集安) that I realize I was actually heading toward North Korea! Precisely, the Chinese border with Manpo, Chagang Province, North Korea. I immediate responded in thrills and excitement. The only distance separating me with North Korea is the following Yalu River.

In 3 AD, the kingdom of Goguryeo set its capital here in Ji'an for over 400 years, in which Goguryeo was one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea. As a result of this significance, Ji'an city and the tomb of Goguryeo royals are now UNESCO world heritage. 

As the border is at the mountain ridge, I didn't see much of an actual North Korea city/town.

According to the local Chinese, we can simply register our Chinese identification card at the Chinese border for a day tour to North Korea. No passport is needed as an existence of the North Korea stamp would prohibit attainment of a U.S visa. However, a tour would be accompanied by a North Korea official whom would restrict freedom of exploration, including taking pictures.

To get closer, I was opting for a ride on the border.  Here the left side is China and the right is North Korea.

Too bad the water was shallow on that day, or else can boat to a North Korea high school for a real North Korean encounter.
During the winter season, the river freezes and people can illegally walk across to either side. The local Chinese told me that everyday there is North Koreans sneak away to China. In winter, North Korean may come to Ji'an to steal food. But for sake of sympathy, the Chinese and police would have their eyes closed as the North Koreans may have staved for weeks...

Local North Korea farm village

The hills have been bald for 6 six years without plant replenishment

First site of North Koreans in North Korea. They are actually taller than I thought

Some other North Koreans on their national highway

The pier for crossing to North Korea. Actually there are several bridges for crossing too.

Steel factory for manufacturing of bullet heads. However, it terminated production in early 2015

The Paektu Mountain (长白山) region is famous ginseng, so that what my business trip was about. The left box is forest grown ginseng (slimmer) and the right is in-house grown ginseng. I learned quite allot here too.

Korean style barbeque with my client, lawyer, auditor and my junior. What a feast. Never really thought of visiting North Korea (area) in my life. Thanks my client for this special trip. =)