Broken Bridge (Duanqiao 断桥 /dwan-chyaou/) once spanned across the Yalu River, connecting Dandong, China and Sinuiju, North Korea. It was bombed by the United States during the Korean War, and only the Chinese side of the bridge remains.
The bridge was turned into a tourist attraction and historic war monument in 1993. Visitors can walk along Broken Bridge to see damage from the bombing and fired shells. You can also view North Korea from both the bridge and surrounding area.
The Korean war was between North and South Korea, after World War II divided the countries and Cold War tensions developed. China, assisted by the Soviet Union, fought for North Korea. The United Nations, lead by the United States, fought for the South.
From November of 1950 to February of 1951, American aircraft bombed the Yalu River Bridge and the Broken Bridge, along with other bridges that connected the countries over the Yalu River. The bombing was an attempt to cut off Chinese aid and part of a greater strategic bombing campaign on North Korea. They used B-29 and B-17 heavy bombers, as well as F-80 fighter-bombers.
It was originally called the Qingcheng Bridge and is an iron truss bridge, built between 1909 and 1911. The original was 944.2 meters (3,098 feet) long and had 12 arches, one of which could open to allow taller ships to pass. The bombers targeted the North Korean side of the bridges, which left four arches of the bridge intact. Consequently, the bridge became known as Broken Bridge.
Walkways have been built along the length and end of the Broken Bridge, so visitors can touch and examine the damage. Fired shells have left holes, missing chunks and snapped iron. The areas have been circled with red paint to draw attention to them. The end of the bridge is a mess of twisted metal, and the supports for the bridge still dot the way to the North Korean shore.
Monuments are scattered at the site, including a bust of Mao Anying, son of Mao Zedong, who crossed Broken Bridge to join the Korean war in October of 1950.
The Broken Bridge and the areas nearby are also an attraction for tourists who want to see part of North Korea without the formalities of a tour. Tourist boats leave the bridge’s side, allowing visitors to see both the Broken Bridge and Yalu River Bridge from the water and get close to the shore of North Korea. The bridge itself extends into North Korean territory.
At night, the arches and underneath of the bridge light up, reflecting in long, blue-white and orange lines on the river’s surface.
Sixty meters upstream from the Broken Bridge is the Yalu River Bridge, which used to be called the Sino-Korea or China-North Korean Friendship Bridge. The Yalu River Bridge was renamed in 1990 and is one of the few entries into North Korea. It was also bombed during the Korean war, but was repaired. Both bridges are just south of the Yalu River Scenic Area.
The eastern part of the Great Wall of China, the 'Tiger Mountain' Great Wall (Hushan Changcheng 虎山长城 /hoo-shan chung-chnng/), starts about 15 kilometers (9 miles) northeast of the metropolitan area of Dandong. A contrast to the Broken Bridge and Yalu River Bridge, which were created to encourage cooperation between North Korea and China, the Hushan Great Wall was erected in the late Ming dynasty to protect China from Korean invasion. Climbing it, you’ll find a great view of Dandong, Sinujiu and the river that separates them.
The Korean War museum, officially named, "The Museum to Commemorate the War to Resist American Aggression and Aid Korea" (Kang Mei Yuan Chao Jinianguan 抗美援朝纪念馆 /kung may ywen chaoww jee-nyen-gwan/), is a 10 minute drive from Broken Bridge. The museum has exhibits with English translations.
Broken Bridge is located in southeast Dandong, just northeast of the Wudaogou and Huayuan Rivers, in the Zhenxing District.
There are many hotels in Dandong near Broken Bridge. Some of the best-rated hotels in Dandong that are within ten minutes of the bridge are the Sunny Resort Hotel, the Yalu River Hotel and the Crowne Plaza Hotel. There are also hotels right on the riverfront.
Buses and taxis are easy to get, and travel is convenient and reasonably priced. It is also possible to walk from the close hotels to Broken Bridge.
Winter is very cold, from November through March. The city is rainiest in July and August monsoon. July and August are also the warmest months, with an average high of 25°C (77°F).