China - the unacknowledged
In my tours of North Korea, China and more specifically Dandong, it was expressed by several Chinese people that the Chinese sided with North Korea in the Korean War because they were Communist brothers and they were geographical neighbors. However, all the people I spoke to stated that even though they fought with the North, Chinese opinion and general belief is that North Korea started the civil war and was the aggressor.
Also, in all the museums of China, the impression is made that the 2.9 million Chinese soldiers fought side by side the North Koreans. Many died, more were wounded. However, in all my time in North Korea, no mention of the Chinese armies was ever voiced. On the contrary, it was not with the aid of 2.9 million Chinese soldiers that the Allied/UN forces signed an Armistice at Panmunjom, but rather it was Kim il-Sung who single handledly defeated the US. (and the Japanese in WWII also).
On the border with North Korea
We visited Dandong in July 2006 for the same reason as most other foreigners who come here - to get a glimpse at North Korea. Dandong is a medium-sized city on the Yalu river, across from a North Korean town, Sinuiju. The two towns are linked by the Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge, closed to pedestrian traffic, but you can see a lot of North Korea just standing on the Chinese side. You can also get boat rides that will take you right up to the North Korean side for a better look. The most exciting part is taking a bus up to Tiger Mountain Great Wall to reach "Yi Bu Kua"(one step cross) and set foot into North Korea!
Here is my VT page about crossing into North Korea
I have some tips about Dandong itself on this VT page.
Dandong street scene. Notice how all the signs are in both Chinese and Korean. Dandong(and many cities in the Northeast) have a large Chinese Korean population. I thought everyone in this city was so friendly. People were inviting us to sit down and rest our feet as we checked our travel guides, the taxi driver back from Hushan was great company, and some bus drivers from Dandong really helped me out later on in Dalian. The city has a nice small-town feel - from the little restaurants that make baozi to the riverfront where locals hang out in the evenings and play hackey sack with shuttlecocks.
There are plenty of North Korean restaurants in Dandong, one of which I detail in my restaurants tip, with photos. The proximity to North Korea seems to draw a lot of tourists, both Chinese and foreign - mainly South Koreans interested in taking a look at their Northern neighbors.
Dandong; China's Back Door to North Korea
"Dandong: China with North Korean characteristics"
If you really want to see, touch and experience North Korea but can't get the visa then Dandong (in China's Liaoning province) is the next best destination.
The basketball player is showing you exactly where Dandong is located.
His right hand touches the Yalu River which serves as the international border between North Korea (right) and China (left).
Dandong is located directly across the Yalu River from Sinuiji, North Korea. About 20 kilometers northeast of Dandong is the Hushan Great Wall, which is where there happens to be land west of the Yalu River that officially belongs to North Korea. This is the famous Yi Bu Kua site where you can simply take one leap over a small tributary and set foot on the Axis of Evil's soil. (See my Hushan page for photos and details!)
"The first thing you see at Dandong train station"
It's Mao Zedong daring Yankee soldiers to drape Stars and Stripes over his head.
"Crossing the "Friendship Bridge" to North Korea"
The China-North Korea Friendship Bridge was actually built by the Japanese during World War 2.
The Short Bridge beside it was bombed by the Americans during the Korean War.
You can watch the Pyongyang Express train from Beijing cross the Yalu River here and also observe North Korean trucks going over to Dandong from Sinuiji as merchants arrive for a little bit of wholesale shopping.
One can easily spot the North Korean shoppers as they always wear Kim Il Sung pins on their chest. Bring some small gifts to give them such as American baseball cards, European postage stamps, or South Korean snack food items.