Dandong is genuinely one of my favourite cities in China for a number of reasons; the great weather in the summer, the beautiful views of North Korea, the excellent food, and frankly the utter sureness of the place at times. Can North Koreans leave North Korea? We’re often led to believe they can’t, but stroll around Dandong and you will see North Korean citizens everywhere, easily distinguishable by their badges. There are also more North Korean restaurants in Dandong than anywhere else in the world, most of which just serve up the standard fare you’d expect from the Pyongyang Franchise, but some are that little bit extra funky, such as Manzi Life.
The North Korean Supermarket (Sun Island Supermarket)
Manzi life is actually a lot more than just a supermarket, in fact it is a multi-purpose multi-floor arena that has a supermarket, outside BBQ, North Korean restaurant, fish market, cinema, karaoke, and even a weird floor where you have to take your shoes off and you can for some reason sleep in a tent (genuinely no idea what that is all about).
So, what’s it all about?
Places such as Sun island Supermarket tend to be joint ventures where the North Koreans provide the labour, and the local partner provides the cash. For whatever reason the local partner here decided to break the Chinese mould, get a genuinely good location, and do something actually different.
And the supermarket?
Well the Sun island Supermarket is no Tesco (funnily enough there are two Tescos in Dandong), but it has a great “foreign section” which has stuff from South Korea, Starburst candy, and prawn cocktail crisps! The fish market is quite the trip…
And the booze?
A bit like Heaven Supermarket in Beijing, you pick your booze from the fabulous selection on offer, pay for it then drink it at leisure. Probably the best beer and soju selection in Dandong.
And the food?
Two choices, and not mutually exclusive; great BBQ served from the front of the establishment, as well as a classic NK restaurant at the back with waitresses from the DPRK. Pyongyang cold noodles anyone?
And the entertainment?
You get the cheaper local version of the Moronbong Band belting out hits for a few hours every evening.
A strange North Korean supermarket with beautiful singers, good beer, great food, and a beautiful view of the Yalu (and the broken bridge); we certainly like it here.
Don’t take our word for it — visit Dandong yourself with our Dandong Tour.