Is the Liujing Hotel Yanji Open?

Liujing Hotel

Is the legendary LiuJing North Korean Hotel in the Korean Autonomous Prefecture still open? The sad news is that no, it is no longer open, but there is now a North Korean hotel/resaturant next door.

So, what was the LiuJing Hotel? Basically Yanji is the capital of the Korean Autonomous Prefecture of China. That means that the people here are for the most part ethnically Korean, or rather Chinese Korean.

This makes Yanji particularly interesting for Korea watchers for a number of reasons. Firstly back in the day and prior to the opening of the Chinese door North Korea was more prosperous than China. This means that the area HAD a lot in common with the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea. Things though have now of course changed and nowadays Yanji is more like South Korea 30 hours ago. What does that mean exactly? In essence cheap soju, cheap Korean food, as well as dog meat and Korean hookers. As you might imagine it is a popular getaway, as well as business hub for both North and South Koreans.

You can read our guide to Dandong here.

LiuJing Hotel and Yanji background

After Dandong Yanji has probably the most North Korean hotels and restaurants, with chief among them formerly being the LiuJing Hotel.

This hotel and restaurant was ran by the North Korean state and worked as a base for both the Korean International Travel Company (KITC), as well as the Rason Internatinal Travel Company (RITA). This meant it was also a bit of a hub for tours to Rason, the “special economic zone” of the DPRK.

One might argue about how much SEZ action they had there, but they at least had good street food.

LiuJing Hotel – rooms and facilities

Rooms here whilst a decent price compared the west were expensive by Yangji standards, running to over $100, this in comparison to around $10-15 at slightly more dodgy establishments, and $30 at a middle of the road.

What drew people here though was the North Korean restaurant ladies, the North Korean food, as well as the few tourists from myself and other companies using this for their tours to Rason and through Tumen – a whole other story.

The Hotel and Restaurant Next Door…..

So, initially I had thought that 122 Xining Road was the LiuJing Hotel as they looked so similar, but also because when I asked they told me they had a North Korean restaurant. They also had a hotel for about $40, but the boss seemed decidedly not North Korean.

We did though try out the North Korean restaurant, with the staff informing us that their restaurant on 122 Xining Lu had replaced replaced the LiiJing Hotel at 124 Xining Lu.

And while it was certainly North Korean the standards were nothing like that of the old LiuJing Hotel. Want context? Well we ordered Pyongyang Cold Noodles, but it came without both vinegar, as well as mustard. Now this might not mean all that much to non-Pyongyang Cold Noodle experts, but for context it is like serving a cheeseburger and fries without cheese and ketchup.

So, overall not a very good North Korean restaurant, but should we have been surprised? As you will see from the photos aside from the 5 cute waitresses we were the only two people customers within the restaurant.

Afterwards we went next door to 124 Xining Road and the remnants of the LiuJing Hotel Yanji. Honestly it was a truly sad sight, with the former glory now being replaced by a very desolate feel. For me personally it had an extra sadness as the last time I was here had been with the legendary Troy Collings.

Why did it close? One can only assume the wrecking ball that took some much from all of us, Covid-19…..