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A North Korean soldier and a little girl sit on an islet in the Yalu River.
North Korea Crisis

The city on the North Korean border where Chinese come to peer in

Images from Dandong: A crack in the door to the Hermit Kingdom

DAISUKE HARASHIMA, Nikkei staff writer and AKIRA KODAKA, Nikkei staff photographer | North Korea

DANDONG, China -- Close to the mouth of the Yalu River lies the city of Dandong -- a gloomy, nondescript place that lays claim to being the gateway to North Korea.

On a boat ride along the river in late October, we spotted a soldier sitting on the ground with a little girl on an islet a few meters ahead.

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