Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Travel: DMZ (Demilitarized Zone)

Where: Demilitarized zone in Paju ,Gyeonggi-do
How: Tour with Adventure Korea
Length: One day

In February I took a one day tour to the DMZ, it was a great trip and I would recommend it to anyone who is coming over to Korea. If you are in Seoul then its not too far away and you can easily do it as a one day trip. I went with Adventure Korea, I have used them before when I went to Jeju Island and found them to be very good.

There are various stops along the way when you do this tour:


Imjingak is as far as you can go towards the North without permission, it was built for the people who had to leave their homes in the North and there is an altar where they can pray for their ancestors.

At Imjingak you can also see the Peace Bell which was built in 2000 and is a symbol for the hope of peace and unification between the North and the South. There is also the Freedom Bridge where they used to exchange prisoners after the war and you can buy some North Korean money here which is a great souvenir.
The Altar
Freedom Bridge

The Third Tunnel

South Korea has discovered four tunnels dug by North Korea to infiltrate the south. They think there could be more but it has only been by chance that they discovered these ones so far. The 3rd Tunnel was found in 1978 and you can walk down into it for a ways – its about 73 meters below the surface. I’m pretty unfit at the moment and it was a bit of a hike – it’s not bad going down but you have to come back up at the end and that was a bit of a climb. There is a little car that goes down but the Adventure Korea tour price does not cover that. The actual infiltration tunnel at the end is pretty small, they give you hard hats so you don’t hit your head and after bumping mine with the hat on (after feeling a bit silly wearing it) I was glad of it.

The tunnel could apparently allow 10, 000 to 30, 000 soldiers to invade Seoul within an hour. Lucky for us it’s all blocked off now.

Tongilchon (unification village)

There are two villages inside the DMZ, which I found to be very strange and interesting as I had not known that anyone actually lived there besides the soldiers.

One village is Daesongdong and the other is Tongilchon, you can see some of the houses and hear about the life of the people who live here. The tour guide was really knowledgeable about this and it was really interesting – there are no gates or anything because there is no crime. There are too many soldiers about for there to be any problems. The villages are famous for their produce as the environment is a lot more natural up there.

Dora Observatory

The observatory is where you can actually see the DMZ and the North. Its pretty far away but they do have some binoculars that you can use (500 won to make them go). You can see some of the cities of the North, again its pretty far so you really just get an impression. Kijongdong is the ‘Propaganda Village’ which was built so that when you looked into the North you could see how prosperous they are.

Dorasan Station

You also visit the last train station that goes towards the North, you can even buy a ticket (really cheap) and go onto the platform to see the train.

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