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Bordering North Korean and Russia, the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture is one of thirty autonomous prefectures in China.

Centuries ago, the region belonged to Chosun Korea, before coming under the rule of the Qing Emperors. In the late 19th Century, Koreans began to return en mass, driven primarily by economic factors and later, to escape the Japanese occupation of the Korean Peninsula.

The People’s Republic of China rewarded the ethnic Koreans their own ethnic autonomous region in 1955, in gratitude to their service during the Chinese Civil War. At the time, ethnic Koreans comprised some 60% of the local population, but today that figure has halved, largely due to migration inside China and abroad, to South Korea.

Today’s Yanbian is a fascinating mix of Han, Man and Korean peoples, one that is strongly influenced by South Korea popular culture, and overshadowed by the region's proximity to North Korea.

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