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延吉市 · 연길시
Kai Er Ma  - panoramio.jpg
Yanji skyline, August 2006.
Yanji in Yanbian
China Jilin location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location of the city centre in Jilin
Coordinates: 42°54′N129°30′E / 42.900°N 129.500°E / 42.900; 129.500 Coordinates: 42°54′N129°30′E / 42.900°N 129.500°E / 42.900; 129.500
Country People's Republic of China
Province Jilin
Prefecture Yanbian
Township-level divisions6 subdistricts
3 towns
Seat Henan Subdistrict
   County-level city 1,748.3 km2 (675.0 sq mi)
40.66 km2 (15.70 sq mi)
179 m (587 ft)
 (2017) [1]
   County-level city 639,000
  Density370/km2 (950/sq mi)
  Urban density13,000/km2 (35,000/sq mi)
Time zone UTC+8 (China Standard)
Website www.yanji.gov.cn
Chinese 延吉
Chinese Korean name
Chosŏn'gŭl 연길
South Korean name
Hangul 옌지

Yanji (Yeon-gil or Yenji in Korean, alternately romanized as Yenki) is a county-level city in the east of China's Jilin Province, and is the seat of the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture. Its population is approximately 400,000 of which a large portion is ethnic Korean. Yanji is a busy hub of transport and trade between China and North Korea. The city is home to Yanbian University, a comprehensive university and the only Project 211 university in Yanji.



Yanji and its environs were largely unpopulated until the 1800s when Qing dynasty rulers of China began to encourage migration there from China proper as part of its Chuang Guandong policy to populate Manchuria in an effort to stem encroaching Russian expansion. [2]

The city was the seat of Jiandao Province in the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo from 1934 to 1943. In 1943, the city itself was renamed Jiandao (Chientao) and made a part of the Dongman Consolidated Province.

Following World War II, the city (again called Yanji) was nominally part of a new Songjiang Province but with the communist seizure of power in 1949, Sonjiang's borders were changed and Yanji became part of Jilin Province.

Yanji is now part of the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture, which is situated in eastern Jilin. [3] Yanji City is centrally located, surrounded by five other county-level cities and two rural counties (see map); it is the administrative seat of the prefecture. [4]

International incidents

The North Korean military detonated its second nuclear test in May 2009 close to the Chinese border, and the blast set off an earthquake of magnitude 4.5 with an epicenter only 112 mi (180 km) from Yanji. [5] The mutual goodwill of the Chinese and Korean populations in the region was put under severe strain, and many in Yanji expressed newfound feelings of dismay and insecurity regarding their North Korean neighbors. [5]

A South Korean pastor, the Reverend Kim Dong-shik, was kidnapped in Yanji in January 2000, one of numerous well-publicized North Korean abductions of South Koreans: a suspect of mixed Korean-Chinese descent, said to have been trained in Pyongyang, was arrested and charged with the crime in December 2004. [6]

Yanji was the starting point of an international dispute in 2009 when two American journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling were detained by North Korean border guards when, after leaving Yanji, they overstepped the nearby demarcation line. [7] The two were freed only after intervention at the highest level, by former US President Clinton. [8]

Crystal meth seeping across the border from North Korea has led to a drug problem. [9] According to a Brookings report, "Jilin Province is not only the most important transshipment point for drugs from North Korea into China, but has itself become one of the largest markets in China for amphetamine-type stimulants." Yanji had registered nearly 2100 drug addicts in 2010 compared to just 44 in 1990; local officials admitted that the actual number was possibly five or six times higher. [10]

Geography and climate

Yanji (labelled as YEN-CHI (CHU-TZU-CHIEH) Yan Ji  (Ju Zi Jie )
) (1955) Txu-oclc-6614383-nk52-5.jpg
Yanji (labelled as YEN-CHI (CHÜ-TZU-CHIEH) 延吉 (局子街)) (1955)

Yanji is situated among foothills, with the main metropolitan area contained in a small, very flat area. [11] It is ringed by mountains dotted with small, remote farming communities. [12] It has a four-season, monsoon-influenced, humid continental climate (classified in the Köppen system as Dwb), with long, very cold winters, and short, but very warm, humid summers. Spring and autumn constitute very short transitions with some, but usually not heavy, rainfall. The monthly 24-hour average temperature ranges from −13.2 °C (8.2 °F) in January to 21.7 °C (71.1 °F) in August, while the annual mean is 5.69 °C (42.2 °F) and a total precipitation of 531 mm (20.9 in), most of it falling during the summer. Sunshine is generous but falling far short of the central and western parts of Jilin; with monthly percent possible sunshine ranging from 39% in July to 62% in February, there are 2,280 hours of bright sunshine annually.

Climate data for Yanji (1981–2010 normals)
Record high °C (°F)7.8
Average high °C (°F)−6.5
Daily mean °C (°F)−13.2
Average low °C (°F)−18.7
Record low °C (°F)−31.4
Average precipitation mm (inches)5.4
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm)
Average relative humidity (%)58555354617379797665616165
Mean monthly sunshine hours 170.4183.2225.3213.2233.6190.0181.0187.5197.6199.5157.7140.82,279.8
Percent possible sunshine 59626153524239445358545051
Source: China Meteorological Administration (precipitation days and sunshine 19712000) [13] [14]

Administrative divisions

Yanji has six subdistricts and three towns. [15]




The Korean diaspora in China has significant populations in at least eleven major Chinese cities, [16] but none larger than Yanji: [12] official Chinese census reports from 1990 placed the city's ethnic Korean population at over 170,000. [16] Official census reports from 2000 have not yet been released publicly, [16] but current estimates place it between about one third of the city's total population [11] [17] to more than one half. [2] [18] Both Chinese and Korean are considered "official languages" of the city: [11] all official signs are in bilingual text, [18] with Korean at the top. [19]


With its current population estimated at four hundred thousand, [11] Yanji is small by Chinese standards (by comparison, the population of Shanghai is almost twenty million). [20] Yanji is also relatively young: the city was developed only in the nineteenth century [2] and became the regional capital after the Second World War. [21] Recent growth in tourism and overseas investment has helped to make Yanji a notably prosperous city. [18] It abounds with modern architecture of steel and glass, [18] and its broad avenues [18] [19] are conspicuously clean and well-maintained. [19] In modern times, Yanji has become a city of transport and trade. [22] China is the largest trading partner of North Korea, accounting for almost 40% of that country's international commerce, and Yanji is the center of much of the cross-border enterprise. [22]

Beyond North Korea, other countries have begun to partner with Yanji business groups: currently there are over five hundred joint ventures with international partners ongoing in Yanji. [18] Much of the recent investment has been made by South Korea [23] [24] and Taiwan, which has helped substantially in building the city's tourism industry. [18]

Yanji also burnishes its reputation as a center of tourism by hosting the annual North China Travel Fair. Held every year since 1996, the fair is one of the largest of its kind in the country, showcasing over a thousand exhibitions representing cultural and economic partners from across China and overseas. [25] Yanji also hosts the Tumen River Area International Investment & Business Forum, a three-day exposition held annually since 2000. [26]

Transport and infrastructure

Daily train service to most major urban centers of the province is available from Yanji, including a 24-hour trip to Beijing. [4] A much shorter trip to the Chinese capital can be arranged at Yanji Chaoyangchuan Airport which serves the area with scheduled passenger flights domestically and to Korea. [4] International air service is provided by the Changchun Longjia Airport, and surface travel to Changchun itself has been made more accessible since the large Changchun-Yanji Expressway was opened to the public in 2009. [27]

A new 125-mile (201 km) water and sewage pipeline was completed in 2006, linking Yanji and the neighboring cities of Jilin and Songyuan to modern sewage treatment plants along the Songhua River. [28]

As of 2012 Yanji offers the most convenient road access to the Rason Special Economic Zone in North Korea. [29]


Yanbian University (main gate) Yanbian University.jpg
Yanbian University (main gate)

Yanbian University is a comprehensive university in Yanji, founded in 1949; it offers eleven programs of study, including four doctoral programs. [30] The university maintains a full-time teaching staff of over 1,400, serving an active student body of over sixteen thousand. [30] One of Yanbian University's graduates, a Korean language major, is Zhang Dejiang, formerly a deputy secretary of the Municipal Committee of Yanji (1983–1985), and now a Vice-Premier of the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing. [31] [32]

Yanji is also home to the Yanbian University of Science and Technology, a technical research college founded in 1990, [33] and the Yanbian Medical College. [34]

Yanbian International Academy, the area school for foreigners, is located in Yanji. [35] There is also a school for Koreans, Korean International School in Yanbian.


Yanji hosts sporting events at the 50,000-seat People's Stadium. [36] The city was the eighteenth stop [37] for the Olympic torch relay at the opening of the 2008 Summer Games. [38]

Officials from the Guinness Book of World Records visited the athletics stadium at Yanbian University in July 2010 to witness a new world record being set: over one thousand students simultaneously juggled soccer balls with their feet for more than ten seconds. [39]


Two all-Korean television channels are produced locally, and others can be freely received from both North and South Korea. [21] Korean cuisine is highly popular and available everywhere. [40] An annual Korean folk festival takes place each September in Yanji, featuring traditional Korean music, dance, painting, and sports. [18]

Karaoke is popular in Yanji, [24] :35 and the city even has a burgeoning underground beatboxing scene, which has been documented by filmmaker Liu Feng in Yan Bian Box (2007). [41] [42]

Related Research Articles

Jilin Province of China

Jilin is one of the three provinces of Northeast China. Its capital and largest city is Changchun. Jilin borders North Korea and Russia to the east, Heilongjiang to the north, Liaoning to the south, and Inner Mongolia to the west.

Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture Autonomous prefecture in Jilin, Peoples Republic of China

Yanbian is an autonomous prefecture in the east of Jilin Province, China. Yanbian is bordered to the north by Heilongjiang, on the west by Baishan and Jilin City, on the south by North Korea's North Hamgyong Province and on the east by Primorsky Krai in Russia. Yanbian is designated as a Korean autonomous prefecture due to the large number of ethnic Koreans living in the region. The prefectural capital is Yanji and the total area is 42,700 square kilometres (16,500 sq mi).

Yanbian University

Yanbian University is one of the key universities of the People's Republic of China, located at Yanji, Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture, Jilin Province. It is a Chinese Ministry of Education Double First Class Discipline University, with Double First Class status in certain disciplines.

Acheng District District in Heilongjiang, Peoples Republic of China

Acheng District, formerly Acheng City, is one of nine districts of the prefecture-level city of Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang Province, Northeast China, covering part of the southeastern suburbs. The district was approved to establish from the former Acheng City (阿城市) by the Chinese State Council on August 15, 2006. As of 2010, it had a population of 596,856 residing in an area of 2,680 km2 (1,030 sq mi), and is 29 km (18 mi) southeast of downtown Harbin, 190 km (120 mi) north of Jilin City, and around 50 km (31 mi) south of the Songhua River. It lies within the basin of and until 1909 was considered synonymous with the Ashi River which gave its name to the Jurchen Jin Dynasty. The district administers nine subdistricts, eight towns, one township, and one ethnic township. It borders Daowai District to the north, Bin County to the northeast, Shangzhi to the southeast, and Wuchang to the south, Shuangcheng District to the west, and Pingfang and Xiangfang Districts to the northwest.

Tumen, Jilin County-level city in Jilin, Peoples Republic of China

Tumen is a county-level city in Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture, eastern Jilin province, Northeast China. Of its 136,000 inhabitants, approximately 78,000 are of Korean descent. The two official languages are Chinese and Korean. Tumen is separated from Namyang of North Hamgyong province of North Korea by the Tumen River. Due to this proximity, many North Koreans escaping North Korea pass through Tumen. Tumen is also the location of a large detention center for captured North Koreans awaiting deportation. Tumen has two major food markets, the South Market and the North Market, where most of the residents purchase their food. Packaged foods and meats are usually sold inside the building, and vegetables are sold outside. There are six elementary schools, with three Korean schools, and three Chinese schools.

Longjing, Jilin County-level city in Jilin, Peoples Republic of China

Longjing is a city in Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture, southeastern Jilin province, Northeast China. It lies on the Tumen River opposite the North Korean city Hoeryong.

Meihekou County-level & Sub-prefectural city in Jilin, Peoples Republic of China

Meihekou is a city of 600,000 in Jilin province, People's Republic of China. It is a regional transport hub, connecting three railway lines, all of which are single track, and 2 national highways. The city is also a major lorry transshipment point in the region as it is also the junction of two trunk roads, connected to Liaoyuan in the northwest. The city is administratively a county-level city of the prefecture-level city of Tonghua, and is its northernmost county-level division.

Linjiang County-level city in Jilin, Peoples Republic of China

Linjiang is a county-level city in southern Jilin province, People's Republic of China, located to the east of Tonghua, and not far from the border with North Korea. It is a county-level city under the administration of Baishan.

Dunhua County-level city in Jilin, Peoples Republic of China

Dunhua is a county-level city of the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture in southeastern Jilin province, People's Republic of China. It has more than 480,000 inhabitants and was the capital of Balhae between 742−756, known at the time as "Junggyeong". During the Qing Dynasty it was called Áodōng (敖东) in Chinese and Odoli in Manchu.

Dehui County-level city in Jilin, Peoples Republic of China

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Hunchun County-level city in Jilin, Peoples Republic of China

Hunchun is a county-level city in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture, far eastern Jilin province. It borders North Korea and Russia, has over 250,000 inhabitants, and covers 5,145 square kilometers. The site of the eastern capital of Balhae/Bohai Kingdom between 785–793, Donggyeong, was located here.

Chaoyang District, Changchun District in Jilin, Peoples Republic of China

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Erdao District District in Jilin, Peoples Republic of China

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Luyuan District District in Jilin, Peoples Republic of China

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Shuangyang District District in Jilin, Peoples Republic of China

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Helong County-level city in Jilin, Peoples Republic of China

Helong is a city of southeastern Jilin province, Northeast China. It is under the administration of the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture.

Yanbian International Academy is a K-12 international school in Yanji, Yanbian, China. It is a part of the Yanbian University of Science and Technology.

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Korean International School in Yanbian is a Korean international school in Yanji, Yanbian, Jilin, China. It serves students in elementary school through high school.

Yanbian Library Library in Korea

Yanbian Library is a library located in Yanji City, Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture, Jilin Province, China. With a collection of over 80 thousand books in Korean, it is the largest and the only one Korean literature collection center in China.


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