April 6 (UPI) -- North Korean activity at the China border could be restarting after a two-month shutdown in response to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
A source at the border who spoke to South Korean news agency Yonhap said restaurants specializing in North Korean cuisine at the border appeared to be reopening. Trucks carrying Chinese merchandise were also seen passing a checkpoint at Dandong, according to the report.
North Korea may be slowly reopening segments of its 880-mile border with China, but the move could be premature, according to South Korean analysts.
Analysts who spoke to local news service Oh My News also said the activity might stay limited despite the end of a nationwide shutdown in China, which heavily influences the North.
After ending restrictions against resident foreigners, North Korea state media has promoted a return to relative normalcy. Last week, Korean Workers' Party paper Rodong Sinmun said the streets of Pyongyang were filled with "blooming flowers, adding to our joy." Photographs showed North Koreans on the streets wearing masks.
Analysts in the South say there is little evidence North Korea has returned to normal levels of trade, however, according to Oh My News. Activity across the three northeastern Chinese provinces facing the North, including Heilongjiang, Liaoning and Jilin, is still relatively low.
Kang Dong-wan, a professor of political science at Dong-A University in the South, said a source operating a North Korea-run factory in Dandong told him in a recent phone call North Korea has banned entry from China.
Kang also said any North Korea-themed restaurants in China that have resumed services are likely dining establishments inside Chinese-owned hotels.
Other analysts who spoke to the news service said the upcoming Supreme People's Assembly this Friday will demonstrate whether the situation is improving in North Korea.
The Rodong reported on March 21 the event will take place as planned, ahead of April 15, the birth anniversary of North Korea founder Kim Il Sung.