Daily NK has acquired photos and video of a North Korean freight train that recently arrived in China, two years after the closure of the North Korea-China border due to COVID-19. The arrival of the freight train, which is 20 cars long, has sparked questions about whether overland trade between Sinuiju (North Pyongan Province) and Dandong (Liaoning Province) will resume for the first time in two years.

A Daily NK source took photographs and video (see below) of the North Korean freight train, which was parked at the Dandong Railway Station, on the morning of Jan. 16.

In the video, people can be seen disinfecting the train. / Video: Daily NK

The source took the photographs and video while avoiding heavy security around the railway station by Chinese public security officials.

According to the source, the train crossed into Dandong from Sinuiju through the Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge at 9 AM on Jan. 16.

In the photos and videos taken by Daily NK’s source, people wearing white protective suits can be seen carrying disinfection equipment and moving nearby the old-looking North Korean freight train.

The 20-car-long North Korean freight train included one locomotive and passenger car, along with 18 freight cars.

The passenger car likely had quarantine workers and trade officials onboard.

Daily NK was unable to confirm whether some of the freight containers were loaded with goods, or whether the train had arrived in China completely empty.

Chinese traders who have engaged in trade activities with North Korea claimed that the first freight train to enter China from North Korea in two years would “take aboard food rations and some quarantine-related supplies before returning to North Korea soon.”

The Chinese traders believe that most of the freight train will be loaded with food.

“At present, disease-control workers are disinfecting the goods to be loaded onto the freight train,” another Daily NK source said. “It hasn’t been decided whether the train will go straight back to the North tomorrow [Jan. 17] or whether it will stay in China for another one or two days. That’s because the goods need to be disinfected again after being loaded onto the train.”

Meanwhile, Daily NK sources in North Korea suggest that overland China-North Korea trade could resume shortly.

“There are many people who witnessed the train go towards China this morning,” a Daily NK source in Sinuiju claimed during a phone call on Jan. 16. “Starting three or four days ago, there have been rumors that a train might enter China from Sinuiju.”

A freight train from Sinuiju, North Korea, parked at the Dandong Railway Station, in Liaoning Province, China. There are people wearing white, protective suits in front of the train. / Image: Daily NK

The source went on to explain that the large quarantine facility in Uiju has been completed, and that the Sinuiju customs office has also finished its quarantine-related preparations.

Daily NK contacted trading companies in North Korea, but found that North Korean authorities have not issued trade companies with any specific trade-related guidelines recently.

It is still too early to tell whether the recent entry of the North Korean freight train into China signals a restart of overland North Korea-China trade, or whether the train was just part of a one-off assignment to acquire goods for the North Korean authorities.

Please direct any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.

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Seulkee Jang is one of Daily NK's full-time journalists. Please direct any questions about her articles to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.