Flask samples from two sites in East Asia, Tae‐Ahn Peninsula, Korea (TAP), and Shangdianzi, China (SDZ), were measured for trace gases including CO2, CO and fossil fuel CO2 (CO2ff, derived from Δ14CO2 observations). The five‐year TAP record shows high CO2ff when local air comes from the Korean Peninsula. Most samples, however, reflect air masses from Northeastern China with lower CO2ff. Our small set of SDZ samples from winter 2009/2010 have strongly elevated CO2ff. Biospheric CO2 contributes substantially to total CO2variability at both sites, even in winter when non‐fossil CO2 sources (including photosynthesis, respiration, biomass burning and biofuel use) contribute 20–30% of the total CO2 enhancement. Carbon monoxide (CO) correlates strongly with CO2ff. The SDZ and TAP far‐field (China influenced) samples have CO: CO2ff ratios (RCO:CO2ff) of 47 ± 2 and 44 ± 3 ppb/ppm respectively, consistent with recent bottom‐up inventory estimates and other observational studies. Locally influenced TAP samples fall into two distinct data sets, ascribed to air sourced from South Korea and North Korea. The South Korea samples have low RCO:CO2ff of 13 ± 3 ppb/ppm, slightly higher than bottom‐up inventories, but consistent with emission ratios for other developed nations. We compare our CO2ff observations with modeled CO2ff using the FLEXPART Lagrangian particle dispersion model convolved with a bottom‐up CO2ff emission inventories. The modeled annual mean CO2ff mole fractions are consistent with our observations when the model inventory includes the reported 63% increase in Chinese emissions from 2004 to 2010, whereas a model version which holds Chinese emissions flat is unable to replicate the observations.