In Dandong, the number of people studying the Chosun language (Korean) is increasing, while real estate prices are rising on the back of rumors that Shinuiju, just across the North Korean border, will soon be opened up to trade and investment.
One anonymous Korean-Chinese trader who already engages in business with North Korea in the area told The Daily NK on the 15th, “The rumor among Chinese traders who have recently been in North Korea has it that ‘The North Korea authorities will open Shinuiju sooner or later.’”
As a result, he said, “There is currently an upsurge in the price of apartments and shops in Dandong, while the number of people wanting to learn the Chosun language is increasing.”
The trader explained that for the last three or four years the real estate market in Dandong has been flat. However, with reports of Kim Jong Eun’s internal appointment as the successor spreading earlier this year, the price of Hanquosheng, Dongfang Minzhu, Taiyang Dasha and other luxury apartments has increased by more than ten percent over the course of the summer.
The source pointed in particular to the fact that the price of apartments under construction in the Langtou Port area has gone from 2,000 Yuan/m² (approximately $300) in May to 3,200 Yuan/m² (approximately $480) in October. The neighborhood has particularly bright prospects as it is the location for the planned Second Yalu River Bridge under an agreement made during the visit to Pyongyang of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in 2009.
The Daily NK’s Korean-Chinese source explained that those primarily responsible for fuelling the real estate gains are Korean-Chinese from the Northeastern provinces of China.
He reported, “Since Dandong has geographical advantages, being cool in summer and warm in winter, as well as being able to provide for North Korea’s development of Shinuiju, the city has emerged as the best investment location for Korean-Chinese people.”
“The expectation that Kim Jong Eun is still young and has experience of life in Switzerland; therefore he knows well the need to develop the country and will have no choice but to make that decision, is driving the investment by Korean-Chinese,” the source added.
Naturally, the presumption that Shinuiju will soon offer some new opportunities for business is producing a new trend for learning the North Korean language.
Wang, a 21 year-old student from a university in Dandong said, “Chinese students know that South Korean is different from Chosun,” and went on, “Until now, South Korean has been all the rage thanks to Hallyu (as the South Korean cultural influence in wider Asia is known), but recently the number of students wanting to learn Chosun has been drastically increasing.”
There are presumed to be roughly 3,000-4,000 North Koreans residing in Dandong, including students. Some of them exchange languages with Chinese students, while some others give private classes for between five and ten Yuan an hour.
Alongside which, private Korean language institutes in Dandong are enjoying increased demand.
One South Korean who manages a Korean language institute in Dandong told The Daily NK, “In the case of Korean language institutes in downtown Dandong, each class has seen an increase of four or five students for this fall semester. Alongside Hallyu, the expectation that Shinuiju will open up has meant that the number of Chinese young people wanting to learn Korean is steadily increasing.”