China conducted maintenance work on the Sino-North Korean Friendship Bridge in what may be preparations for the restart of Sino-North Korean trade, Daily NK has learned.

“Safety checks and maintenance aimed at restarting traffic over the bridge was conducted by the Chinese on Mar. 26,” a source in China told Daily NK today. “The maintenance work took all day.”

The Sino-North Korean Friendship Bridge carries more than 70% of trade-related traffic between the two countries. North Korea unilaterally shutdown traffic across the bridge in late January as part of broader efforts to prevent an outbreak of COVID-19.

The photograph (below) sent by Daily NK’s source shows several Chinese workers checking the bridge for defects. Daily NK was unable to confirm whether North Korean authorities conducted similar checks on their side of the bridge.

friendship bridge
In this photo snapped by a Daily NK stringer, Chinese workers are seen checking the Sino-North Korean Friendship Bridge for defects. / Image: Daily NK

This new activity on the bridge has raised speculation that work on the New Yalu River Bridge may soon begin again.

Daily NK reported earlier this year [in Korean] that construction on the New Yalu River Bridge was halted due to the COVID-19 crisis despite work on the bridge having taken place last year.

The new work on the Sino-North Korean Friendship Bridge has ignited speculation that tourism or low-level trade across the border will begin soon.

Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported recently [in Korean] that travel agencies in China are starting to identify potential travelers to North Korea.

China announced on Mar. 26, however, that it would severely restrict the entry of foreigners into the country, a development that will most likely impact the entry of North Korean traders into the country.

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Mun Dong Hui is one of Daily NK's full-time journalists. Please direct any questions about his articles to