There is analysis that Chinas new highway to be constructed from the end of this year may separate Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture from Mt. Baekdu (Changbai shan in Chinese).
According to Dandong newspaper reports on October 25, the Chinese government decided to construct a highway on the 1,960km long section of the national road 21, which connects Heilongjiang and Dalian.
The section between Donggang and Tonghua will be completed by 2009 according to Dandong Citys 11th Five Year Plan. When the section is open to traffic, the traveling distance and time will be shortened approximately from 260km to 190km and from six to two hours, respectively.
While it takes more than five hours to go from Yanji, the center of Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture, through Erdao Baihe to Mt. Baekdu, it will take about two hours from Tonghua to Mt. Baekdu.
A source in Dandong said, If the highway opens, there will be big changes to transportation and human traffic. The significance of the Korean Autonomous Prefecture as the path to Mt. Baekdu will be reduced.
When an airport is constructed in Bai shan near Mt. Baekdu and a highway between Changchun and Tonghua is added, the Prefecture might be isolated from Mt. Baekdu for the reason of relative inconvenience in access.
The tourist image of Mt. Baekdu as Joseons Spiritual Mountain may be diluted as the main access to the mountain is changed after the opening of a new highway.
A source in Dandongs travel business forecast that there will be less Korean tourists to Yanbian as the monuments of Goguryeo will be within two hours from Dandong. As far as I know, Dandong City is now discussing with the Korean government about constructing a road between Dandong and Incheon. If the road opens, the Dandong route will have a competitive edge over the Yanji route, he said.
The Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefectures right to manage Mr. Baekdu was transferred to Jilin Province last May when Jilin created Changbai shan Management Committee. The local Koreans in Yanbian are concerned about the prospective isolation of the Prefecture from Mt. Baekdu.