We arrived in Dandong – in the mid afternoon. This tiny community of 1 million people line the banks of the Yalu River directly across from North Korea. This river divides the two countries. After a lunch of “meat” in which we cooked chicken heads, other entrails and beef over a gas powered stove built into our table – we headed out to the Broken River Bridge. This iron bridge was built over the Yalu River in 1911 by the Japanese. It was the first iron bridge over this river – later it was partially destroyed by USA military forces during the Korean War in 1950.
Today you can walk out on the bridge which ends in about the middle of the river. Without a visa to visit North Korea, this is about as close as you will get to this “closed country”. I was there in the evening – it was damn cold (-7 Celsius) and windy and I was the only one on the entire bridge!
I sat at the end of the bridge – you could still see the twisted steel where the bombs tore through. I watched the night slowly descend and watched the bright lights of Dandong come alive while the North Korean side remained completely dark other than a few stray lights. During the daylight I could see plenty of buildings on that side but with power at a premium lights are far and few between.
If the borders between the two countries are ever opened for extensive trade, this location could be poised to really take off. It is hard to imagine a more closed country than North Korea. Travelers from the states can acquire a tourist visa – a visit to this country would be a really unique trip!