Day 20 of Asia Adventure October 23rd, 2012
Today is last day in Seoul, Korea. Today I am going to do a tour of the DMZ and JSA.
This morning waking up it is quite cold around -7C today, so its a freezing. I wait inside of the Dunkin Donut shop for the tour group. I have no clue who the company is. I was just told to wait and they look for you.
Finally a bus shows up and a guy in a suit comes in , and off to do the tour.
Here is some information about the DMZ tour and what it is about.
Korea is the only divided country in the world. After the Korean War (June 25 1950 – July 27 1953), South Korea and North Korea established a border that cut the Korean peninsula roughly in half.
Stretching for 2km on either side of this border is the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). As one of the last relics of the Cold War, the DMZ attracts a great deal of public interest, and is a popular destination for travelers visiting Korea. Despite the fact that this is the most heavily armed border in the world, it is extremely rare that any hostilities take place. These days the DMZ is a safe destination that we would thoroughly recommend to any traveler. The DMZ and its surroundings contain many interesting historical sights and pristine untouched natural surroundings.
Various organizations offer DMZ guided tours. Itineraries differ, but most tours will take visitors to an observatory, one of North Korea’s infiltration tunnels, a military base, and right into Panmunjeom, the Joint Security Area in the middle of the DMZ where negotiations between the two sides are held.
So basically you get on the bus and they take to you first stop the 3rd tunnel. Where you walk down 2500 meters to an area of a secret tunnel of a planned invasion in the mid 1970’s be North Korea. Very interesting walk, at same time this tour is so touristy and popular that the authentically of it is almost gone. So you have to use your imagination.
Still interesting to be here.
After the tunnel we went to a look out area. Where you are not allowed to take photos right at the view point, you have to take photos from a spot behind and the rules are strict as I saw about 5 people get their cameras taken away and were destroyed.
So from the view point you look hard to North Korea. North Korea looks very barren and you see the town by the tall flag post. The town is a communist propganda town, no one lives there, its there to make them look good.
So quite interesting.
Then we make it to the train station. Here this was built a few years ago as to when the countries open up there is a link. The station is only used once I think, I got a ticket from there, so in case the train starts running, I can go to North Korea.
There is also a road, as they do have trucks that travel back and forth to North Korea as South Korea does have companies that run factories in North Korea.
After this we go for a traditional korean lunch. Then back on board the bus to get back to the DMZ. This part we head to the JSA area. First a few passport check points then arrive to a one hole golf course. More less symbol of the conflict
Then we are all divided in to a line and walk single file up a stair way and photos are limited.
Outside we are at the JSA zone. Here you see the South Korea guards standing like statues in a Taekondo pose to show intimidation to North Korea. However on the North Korea side, all you see is one guard looking lost by the building. More of a comical situation. You decide on your opinions of this.
Back on the bus we are taken to the the bridge to nowhere, which has an interesting story. Also a photo of some plaque. The real cool stuff on this tour we were not allowed to take photos of. There are scenes of tanks and guns that are seen in lookouts but due to tough rules, we were not allowed to photo graph.
So now tour is over we are dropped off near city hall. I go and visit the city hall finally as I got lost the other day and missed it. Very cool looking building with it being all made of glass.
Then I go to the nearby palace and walk the grounds of that as well. Another interesting site of Seoul.
This is my last evening in Seoul. Will be taking the train to Gyeongju the next day, so stay tuned for the next adventure.