A North Korean cement factory and children washing clothes and bathing in the Yalu River are seen from Linjiang in Northeast China's Jilin Province. Photo: Han Jiwei
Two men take a peek at the other side of the Yalu River with binoculars near Ji'an, Northeast China's Liaoning Province. Photo: Han Jiwei
Visitors wearing traditional Korean costumes take pictures in front of the Broken Bridge in Dandong that used to connect China and North Korea. Photo: Han Jiwei
North Korean children swim near the Yunfeng Dam on the Yalu River where the country's woodcutters collect their lumber. Photo: Han Jiwei
Seen from a border village on the way from Longjing to Tumen in China's Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture, portraits of Kim Jong-il and Kim Il-sung, late North Korean top leaders, hang outside a North Korean train station. Photo: Han Jiwei
Young North Koreans check out Dandong on a ship from the opposite North Korean town of Sinuiju on the Yalu River. Photo: Han Jiwei
"Look out there!" a sailor suddenly shouted at me while clapping my shoulder. Looking in the direction he was pointing, I saw several women taking a group of children to bathe in the river. "Shoot quickly, otherwise you will miss the chance."
This scene was seen from a river yacht on the Yalu River, the boundary between China and North Korea, in Dandong, Northeast China's Liaoning Province. Taking a ship to peer at the mysterious country on the other side of the river has become one of most popular tour options in Chinese border cities along the Yalu and Tumen rivers which form part of the border.
Small or big, the cruises can take from 10 to about 50 passengers each time. Capturing images of the people living on the other side of the river with cameras or binoculars is the biggest attraction for the 60 yuan ($8.88) round trip of no more than 5 kilometers.
As part of the economic slowdown across the country, these second and third tier cities in Northeast China are suffering from slow growth caused by the contraction of the property market and heavy industries.
But tourism is an exception. Despite North Korea's nuclear tests this year, the number of tourists from China and other countries heading to these border cities has actually increased.
Dandong, which has 2.4 million residents, is particularly popular as 70 percent of China's trade with North Korea goes through the city's port.
The city's tourism revenue grew 16.2 percent year-on-year during the first half of the year to 19.88 billion yuan ($2.9 billion).
Local governments near the border are vying to develop their tourism industries. Modern parks have been built along the river, presenting the country's best side to its neighbor.Newspaper headline: Glimpsing the neighbors