The Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture is located in the most easterly part of northeast China’s Jilin province. Its unique Korean ethnic culture, spectacular landscapes and fascinating border tours in North Korea and Russia have combined to make the place a famous tourist area.
Located in the eastern part of Jilin Province, the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture occupies one quarter of the province's total area, bordering Russia in the east and facing North Korea across the Tumen River in the south.
The prefecture is home to China’s largest concentration of people of the Korean ethnic group, whose ancestors migrated from the Korean peninsula into northeast China in the late 17th century. Yanbian has a population of some two million, 40 percent of whom are Koreans.
This is a famous Korean folk song titled Daolaji. Almost every ethnic Korean can sing this beautiful and lively piece. In fact, if you enjoy singing and dancing, Yanbian is the place to go, because the Korean people love having a good time. During festival and harvest seasons, they don their brightly-colored costumes and perform folk songs and dances to the accompaniment of their traditional musical instruments, such as drums, flutes and the Jiaye zither.
One good place to catch a glimpse of the folk customs of the Koreans is Yanji, the capital of the prefecture. Most of the locals in Yanji are from the Korean ethnic group, and if you wander around the city, the first thing that strikes you may be the strong Korean ambience which can be found everywhere, from the architecture and clothing of the locals to the Korean language and writing you hear and see in the streets.
To learn more about the Korean ethnic group, you can go to the Korean Folklore Village in suburban Yanji. Here you can enjoy their beautiful music and dances, and join in all kinds of activities to have a unique experience of the lifestyle and customs of the Korean people.
Feeling hungry? Take a seat in a restaurant, for no trip to Yanbian is complete without a taste of genuine Korean cuisine, which is known for its distinctive tastes and constitutes an indispensable part of the minority’s culture.
As you probably know, many Korean dishes, but not all, are quite spicy. The Koreans’ favorite foods include cold noodles, sticky rice cakes, dog meat, barbecued beef, and kimchi, or pickled vegetables, usually very hot, which accompanies almost every meal.
Yanbian is known not only for its unique Korean ethnic flavor, but also for its beautiful landscapes, which attract numerous sightseers from home and abroad.
The most spectacular views in Yanbian are found along the Tumen river, the largest river in the region. Originating in the Changbai mountains, it runs along the border between China and North Korea and finally empties into the Sea of Japan. Take a cruise in a pleasure boat and enjoy the scenery. Oh, and I mustn’t forget the chum salmon: it’s a specialty of the river, and tastes absolutely fantastic.
In the lower reaches of the river lies a small village called Fangchuan. The village has an area of only 20 square kilometers, but it’s one of the most famous tourist spots in Yanbian.
Fangchuan is located right in the center of the Northeast Asia Economic Corporation Zone and at the juncture of three countries, facing Russia in the east and North Korea in the southwest. A railway bridge spanning the Tumen River links Russia and North Korea, and is a key overland trade route between the two countries.
On the top of a mountain near the village is a sightseeing pavilion, which provides a vantage point for visitors to have a panoramic view of the surrounding landscape in all three countries. In recent years, the Yanbian Prefecture government has cooperated with Russia and North Korea to jointly operate border tours, which has made Fangchuan village an increasingly popular tourist attraction.
It’s only 15 kilometers from Fangchuan to the mouth of the Tumen river, where you can enjoy the spectacle of surging waves and the vast expanse of the Sea of Japan.
Another famous sightseeing spot in Yanbian is the Celestial Peak Scenic Area in the south of Yanji city. The place is known for its imposing mountains, verdant primal forests, clear streams and numerous grotesquely-shaped rocks and stones. It’s also home to many species of rare plants and animals, and is a major production place for ginseng, marten and pilose antler, which are known as the “three treasures of northeast China”.
Other tourist attractions in Yanbian include the Maoershan Forest Park, Zhanggu Peak, Moon Lake, and the Xianjingtai Scenic Spot.
Travelling to Yanbian is very easy. You can go there by train or plane from many major cities in the country. It also has rail connections with North Korea and Russia.
(CRI January 15, 2003)