Sunday, May 29, 2011

DMZ and North Korea

I entered into North Korea today. I took a tour of the DeMilitarized Zone with the USO, which is supposed to be the best tour to take. It allows all foreigners to go except Koreans. I think the reason being that we come ‘face to face’ with North Korean soldiers. We not only saw the DMZ, but also the JSA, which is the Joint Security Area. I met at Camp Kim, which is a US military base in Seoul with a friend, Jeremy. The bus then took us up north.

When we got to the JSA area were greeted by a member of the US army who checked our passports and then brought us to the briefing room. This is where another member of the US army gave a speech on the history of the DMZ line, where it runs, how it is marked, guarded, etc. We then headed to the Freedom building which is a meeting building for North and South Korea.

view from the steps of the Freedom Building

The UNCMAC building where talks between North and South Korea happen. This is when the tour guide said everyone on his left was standing in North Korea and everyone on his right was standing in South Korea. I was on his left.

My feet in North Korea.

Helping guard South Korea

We were then shown each lookout tower and got out at tower number 3. This is a location where we were surrounded by North Korea on 3 sides. Now, even though this whole area is heavily guarded by soldiers from so many different countries it is actually a really peaceful place. They take pride in the nature and beauty of the area. There are mountains, trees, rice patties and it is the home to a lot of wildlife.

A view of North Korea

Everyone fights over who has the bigger flag and flag pole. This North Korean flag weighs 300 pounds standing weight. They have to take it down in bad weather or it will be destroyed by it's own weight.
A view of North Korea and the bridge of no return
The bridge of no return. The name is literal.

We then got to walk through tunnel number 3. There are 4 known tunnels that the North Koreans built to invade South Korea. When South Korea found these tunnels the North Koreans first denied the tunnels saying that South Korea really built them. When it was proved impossible to have been done by the South Koreans, due to the direction the dynamite was positioned, the North Koreans painted coal on the sides saying they were mining for coal. The entire tunnel is made of granite. Fail again, North Korea. We then got to go to the observation tower that looks out into North Korea and lets you see the closest city.
At the observation tower.
Dorasan train station is the last station in South Korea. This isn't actually a used train station. It was just built in hopes that one day North and South Korea will be united and when that day comes they will have a station built to connect the two countries.

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