China offers river cruise to view a 'real life' glimpse of North Koreans

The Second Prize is a 2 day tour!

A boat tour along the Yalu river on the border between China and North Korea is offering Chinese tourists a glimpse of "real life" in the North Korea - far removed from that more visible in the capital Pyongyang the passengers say.

The tour offers a cruise on a small pleasure boat departing Dandong in the Liaoning Province along the river where Chinese boats and North Korean military patrol ships come and go. 

"Do you need a push?" a pleasure boat operator called out to a North Korean man steering a boat, who responded by holding up an oar and laughing, during a tour in April. 

"You are all pretty," a male Chinese tourist said to the female passengers in the row boat, through the boat operator who can speak basic Korean, as the pleasure boat crossed the river to approach the North Korean shore that took just a couple of minutes after departure. 

As the boat proceeded down the river, floating close to the shore, North Korean locals were spotted on the bank -- a man fetching water from the river, a woman washing clothes and a female soldier on guard.
"Don't take photos unless I give you permission," the boat operator said, mindful of the North Korean soldiers. 

The tour organizer, which charges 100 yuan ($15) per person, also sells biscuits for tourists to give to North Koreans. 

"I often see starving people begging tourists for food and money. That's real life in here in North Korea, which you can't see in Pyongyang" a tour guide said. 

"We have many issues in China like a corrupt bureaucracy, but at least we can eat," said a Chinese man taking part in the tour.

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