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Once an obscure port tucked away in the corner of Liaoning province at the confluence of the Yalu River and the Yellow Sea, DANDONG(丹东, dāndōng) is now a popular weekend destination for Chinese, who come to gaze across the border into North Korea – the listless Korean city of Sinuiju (Xinyizhou in Chinese) lies on the other side of the Yalu River. South Koreans, too, come to look across at their northern neighbours, while foreigners from further afield visit for the massive memorial and museum dedicated to the defence of China’s communist neighbour against imperialists during the Korean War. Dandong remains small enough to feel human in scale, and the tree-lined main streets are uncrowded, clean and prosperous. A strong Korean influence can be felt: vendors along the riverfront promenade sell North Korean stamps, bearing slogans in Korean such as “Become human gun bombs!” and North Korean TV is on view in Dandong hotels. All in all, Dandong makes a worthwhile weekend trip out of Beijing or a stopover while touring the sooty northeast, as well as a convenient departure point for the Changbai Shan Nature Reserve.

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