The dilapidated Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge connects North Korea’s border
city of Sinuiju with Dandong in China. Image: Daily NK
The Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge was temporarily shut this month, and reports are coming in that the North Korean authorities are using the closure to repair the railroad tracks. The bridge connects China’s Dandong City in Liaoning Province to North Korea’s Sinuiju City in North Pyongan Province.
“The Chinese side shut down the Sino-Korean friendship bridge first, and then the North Korean side followed suit. North Korean drivers have been saying that the authorities plan to use the time to focus on railroad repairs. They announced that North Korean vehicles will be able to travel to China as usual from December 18,” a source in China close to North Korean affairs told Daily NK on December 1.
The source explained that the bridge will be closed for about 10 days if all goes according to plan.
Some Chinese media outlets have reported that the Chinese authorities intended to begin construction and repair work beginning on November 24, but the work was postponed until the middle of December. The reason stated was for China to repair the ageing rail tracks. Some observers have suggested that the North Korean authorities could have been pressuring China to make the repairs.
“The bridge has previously been closed to allow for repairs. The dilapidated structure is now out of action, but there’s no way for us to know whether the closure has anything to do with trade sanctions targeting the North,” the source explained.
A separate source in China with knowledge of the matter noted that in the aftermath of the sanctions, the number of vehicles traversing the Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge has noticeably declined since last year. The source claims that even with the bridge temporarily closed, the impact on trade flow is likely to be minimal. An extended closure that exceeds the forecasted 10 days, however, could cause considerable harm to the regime’s trade interests.
The middle lane of the Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge. Image: Daily NK