new yalu river bridge
FILE PHOTO: Vehicles seen crossing the New Yalu River Bridge. (Daily NK)

The complete reopening of road traffic between Sinuiju and Dandong — the biggest route of human traffic between the two countries — appears imminent, Daily NK has learned. If the road between the two nations reopens, trade officials who have been operating in China will likely return to North Korea.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a reporting partner in North Korea told Daily NK on Friday that the authorities recently issued an order to normalize operations at all departments of Sinuiju Customs House.

Sinuiju Customs House has been carrying out quarantine inspections of freight trains and ships carrying out trade between Sinuiju and Dandong. However, the customs house has not completely restarted quarantine activities for road-based trade. 

The recent order means that overland trade will completely restart, the reporting partner said.

Even now, one can occasionally spot passenger cars on the Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge, but the road has yet to be fully reopened. If the road completely reopens between Sinuiju and Dandong, this will likely lead to cargo truck and passenger bus traffic.

In early April, China Customs issued passes to cross the border to cargo truck drivers at Chinese logistics companies with experience trading with North Korea.

The party committee of North Pyongan Province began trade-related lectures for trade officials in the province. The five-day lectures began from Thursday, focusing on explanations of trade law, bylaws for carrying out the law and punishments for legal non-compliance.

North Korean authorities had previously carried out a trade-related workshop for trade officials and trade management bureau officials in North Hamgyong Province ahead of the opening of the road linking Najin, North Hamgyong Province, and Hunchun, Jilin Province, last year.

The party committee of North Hamgyong Province, which organized the lectures, explained to trade officials the rules pertaining to the state trade management system and called on them to obey state mandates.

The recent trade lectures underway in North Pyongan Province are expected to emphasize similar things, given that North Korea has amended and supplemented its trade law to strengthen centralized control since closing the country’s border due to COVID-19.


With the authorities moving to completely reopen overland routes in North Pyongan Province, word is going around North Korean trade delegations and workers in China that their repatriation is imminent.

Chinese trade delegates in China are nervous because they must undergo general reviews of their results from the last three years and could face punishments depending on the results of how well they completed their tasks and organizational management evaluations.

In fact, with some trade officials attempting to defect to avoid repatriation, the organizational management of trade delegations has emerged as a problem.

Rumors even suggest that North Korean authorities will repatriate every single trade official currently remaining in China and replace them with new personnel.

Although North Korea is likely to repatriate workers in China if passenger bus service between the two countries restarts with the complete opening of roads, the restart of cargo truck service is expected to come first. 

“Once the road opens complete, workers will be repatriated and new personnel will be dispatched,” a reporting partner in China said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “But because this will involve moving so many people, it could take some time.”

Translated by David Black. Edited by Robert Lauler. 

Daily NK works with a network of reporting partners who live inside North Korea and China. Their identities remain anonymous due to security concerns. More information about Daily NK’s reporting partner network and information gathering activities can be found on our FAQ page here.  

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