To the DMZ!

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I finally get to go to the DMZ, yay!

Okay, I know its not supposed to be a happy thing and happy place to be in, but im just glad i saw this place and a need for the two Koreas to unite again.

The day before this, I got my guesthouse manager to help book the tour for me. Trips to DMZ cannot be free and easy, so you would need to either book a tour online, at hotel concierge and such.

The one I had included a pick up from my guesthouse, and a english speaking guide, together with the entrance fee of the places.

NOTE: There’s 2 different kind of tours, one is called the DMZ (Demilitarize Zone) where you get to see the 3rd infiltration tunnel, train station that has tracks that leads to Pyeongyang and also the observatory where you can see Kaeseong Industrial area in N. Korea. But there is also another one which is called JSA (Joint Security Area) where you get to the see Freedom Bridge, the Freedom House and so on. The JSA tour is more strict and requires a lot of rules to follow because it goes to a place where both Korea exists. 

I had not idea that both are different, so I went for the DMZ one. Only after checking with mu guide, then I realised that there are more to see than just the DMZ area T^T. The JSA tour would need at least 3 days bookings in advance and they do not operate on Sat, Sun and Mon.

Anyways, back to DMZ, I was picked up at my guesthouse by the boss itself (I only got to know about it later when I was talking to my guide) and transferred to a mini van where I waited for 5 others. The journey took a little long but the journey to Paju takes about 50mins – 1hour or so. (Yay to nap time on the van!)

When we reached, the guide needs to buy a ticket for the tour and we have to transfer to a government operated coach to enter into the DMZ area. Before the coach sets off, the mentioned that there are no photo taking allowed on the coach (DDD:), the tunnel, the auditorium, erm, okay, pretty everything except for the Dorasan train station.

So it’s gna be a pretty picture-less post.

Anyway, I have been explained plenty of times about the relationship between the North and South since I used to always bring tour to Korea, but let me just give you a brief of what is happening from what I heard from my guide: North and South Korea were a huge country to begin with, but they were young and needed help to manage to the country. Russia (back then the Soviet Union) and USA decided to help them by managing half the country each, dividing it at the 38th Parallel line because that’s about half of Korea. So it happened that one day, the North started attacking the South and there we have the war. After 3 years and 4 months (if i don’t remember it wrongly…) the war ended, not with a peace treaty, but a cease-fire treaty.

My guide said it in a real scary way, she told us, “So technically speaking, we are still living in war.”. So the walls of the both Korea went up within matter of days and you have lots of people who are unable to get back to their family, which was really saddening…

The only only good thing about this DMZ existing would be the rich eco-system around that area. While we were driving back to Seoul, we saw the habitats that lived there. To the Koreas, it’s a place of sorrows, but to the habitats living there, that’s their paradise.

 

Okay so, we first went into a auditorium to watch the video about the war and the desire to unite the two Koreas, then she explained to us the war and so on before we went down to the tunnel. So there’s actually 4 tunnels which they found and the one we are visiting, the 3rd tunnel, is the nearest to Seoul. They also believe that there are more tunnels yet to be found.

We walked down a really steep tunnel which was dug by the South Korean government for the tourists to see the real tunnel, and there’s also another tunnel they dug for the trams that you could take down to the tunnel. We missed the tram timing so we had to roll down and climb up that steep tunnel which goes 25 storeys down.

In the tunnel, you can see holes for the dynamite and just by walking through the tunnel, you know that North Korea have really great engineers! It’s a pity they are such a closed up country. Out of the long tunnel North Korea built, only 400m belongs to the South and the rest belongs to the North. It was when we were walking inside the tunnel then I realised how goodness short I am. Everyone’s either hitting their helmets on the tunnel ceilings or the metal bar, im the only one who is walking upright and not bumping into anything. not.a.single.one. (so i praised and joked saying that’s when the pros of my height comes in).

And then, here comes the challenge, to climb up the tunnel again! It was tedious and we were soooooo tired after climbing back up.

20131101_100930A secretly taken picture while walking up the steep slope. T^T

After that, we went to the Observatory where you get to see Kaeseong Industrial Complex and the propaganda village in North Korea. We can only take picture from behind the yellow line. But you can get to use the binoculars (?) stands at the observatory to see the things in the North, 500won for 2 mins!

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Picture’s a little dark but yea, that’s what you see.

After that, we went to take a look at Dorasan train station, the whole building looks like 2 person joining hands, in hope that the 2 Koreas will join hand one day. It would be great if there’s a train running from this station to Pyeongchang, but for now, it’s just the train tracks. There’s a counter here where you can get a souvenir stamp, NOT on your passport, just a random piece of paper which you can keep later, because you might get into trouble if you stamp it on your passport.

My guide tried to help me take a picture with the soldier on duty that day without him knowing, but I shan’t post the picture up just in case I get him into trouble.

So here are pretty much all the pictures I could take…

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It’s a mixed of feelings when I saw the to Seoul sign… It’s bitter sweet. I wonder when can the North Koreans see this sign…

Just a funny incident, I was taking this picture and standing on the double yellow line on the road, and I was screamed at by some china women to not cross the yellow line, if not I will be arrested. So I was a little wts? Crazy people…

 

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