DMZ Tour

9 04 2010

We were picked up from Mr Sea at 7.15am and taken by tour group to the DMZ- Demilitarized Zone (buffer zone between the North and South Korean border).

We drove past the Han river which flows through both countries. In the south it is surrounded by barbed wire fences and there are ‘anti-boat walls’ of explosives built in the river to stop North Korean spies from entering SK.

Also, along the main highway north are huge advertising billboards across the road that hide explosives as an ‘anti-tank wall’.

We reached Imjingak and saw the Bridge of Freedom where 12773 prisoners walked to freedom in the south in 1953. Also there was an old train that used to run into North Korea that was derailed during the Korean War and riddled with bullets (1020 bullet holes to be exact).

From there we got transferred to a special red tour bus that went to the DMZ border to the 3rd Infiltration Tunnel. We walked down into the North Korean built tunnel, under the DMZ. It was quite steep going down into the tunnel, which stretches 1635m in length below the DMZ. There have been 4 tunnels found officially, but unofficially North Kore dug at least 20 tunnels under the DMZ aiming for a surprise attack on Seoul which is about 50km away.

After that we went to Dora Observatory in the DMZ which is the northernmost observatory from which you can see North Korea. We had 90% visibility and could see the South Korean village (and flag pole) and the fake (unoccupied) North Korean village (with flagpole). Photos are only permitted behind the photo line, so of course you can’t take a photo of North Korea!

Then we went to Dorasan train station, the last stop of SK rail, built with the hope that lines to NK will open. So, half the station is ready but currently unused- the sign for the onward tracks to the NK capital and a customs/immigration section ready for when tracks open through NK to China and beyond to Europe.

A sales attempt at an expensive ginseng store ($500 for some ginseng extract?) and we were finished.

We went to Sinchon (no e) and had lunch at Loving Hut (the third one so far) before doing some shopping and walking through Yongsan Electronics Markets,  Dongdaemun markets and walking along the newly built/refurbished stream that used to be a highway.

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