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North Korea’s Freight Train to China Marks First Crossing of Border Since Pandemic
The North Korea-China Friendship Bridge (joongang.co.kr)

On January 16th, the first freight train departing from Sinuiju, North Korea, crossed the North Korea-China Friendship Bridge, arrived at Dandong Station in China, then returned to North Korea. Shortly thereafter, the second freight train, which departed on the following day, arrived at Dandong Station as well, announcing the resumption of freight train trade between the two countries. This trade is the first since North Korea shut its borders on January 31st, 2020, due to the pandemic. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs officially confirmed the matter with the announcement that the North Korea-China freight train trade has indeed been resumed, but only between Sinuiju and Dandong, and will operate daily for the time being under strict quarantine rules. The train that returned to North Korea was reported to have carried daily necessities, such as flour, cooking oil, and medicine. Cargo that arrives in North Korea will be sent to the Uiju quarantine center and will go through disinfection procedures before being transported inland. Experts are still cautious as to whether there will be more border expansions; because trade has been resumed amid the ongoing pandemic, any judgments could be premature. Jung Seongjang, director of the North Korea Research Center of the Sejong Institute, said that the “Continuance and expansion of trade will depend on how effectively the ongoing pandemic can be contained.”

김재희  serenwogml@g.skku.edu

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