January 18, 2022

How Yanbian became a meeting place for both Koreas

North Korea labor, South Korean investment and culture meet in Chinese border province

The early 1990s can be seen as a turning point in the history of the Yanbian area in general and its relations with North Korea in particular. Many different, if somewhat related, events produced these changes.

First of all, Chinese market reforms began to bare fruit. Thus, the area began to grow richer and richer. For decades, North Koreans lived better than their (often literal) brethren in Yanbian. But this ceased to be the case by the mid-1980s, and since the early 1990s the gap between North Korea and Yanbian has grown rapidly.