A date? A young man and woman sit along the Yalu River having a chat. Sakju County, North Pyongan Province. Shot by ISHIMARU Jiro.

ISHIMARU Jiro visited the North Korea-China border in early autumn last year. He has visited the area each year since the summer of 1993. On this visit, he travelled from Dandong City in Liaoning Province along the length of the Yalu River to Jilin Province, before following the border down to the mouth of the Tumen River.

ISHIMARU Jiro covers domestic affairs with the help of a reporting partner living in North Korea. Normally, they use Chinese mobile phones that have been smuggled into North Korea. As foreign journalists in North Korea are constantly monitored by “guides,” it is not easy to cover the reality of the country.

News coverage from China is also limited due to various restrictions but it is possible to make one’s own way to the 1,400 kilometer-long border to see North Korea firsthand. Keeping in mind the latest information sent from within the country, ISHIMARU Jiro watches the border and waits to contact North Koreans who leave for China, legally and illegally.

The Yalu river is about 800 kilometers long, far longer than any river in ISHIMARU Jiro’s native Japan. Along the river, North Korean authorities pay keen attention to their country’s “outside appearance” as seen from the Chinese side- remodeling old buildings and instructing residents to be careful about their behavior and dress. Nevertheless, one can catch a glimpse of the daily lives of North Korean people living along the river and see the effects of policies made in Pyongyang.

※ All photos were taken in September 2019 by ISHIMARU Jiro.

<Latest Photo Report> A Trip to the North Korea-China (Part 2: No More North Korean Refugees at the Tight Tumen River Border)

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