Friday, August 16, 2013

DMZ and a little bit of North Korea

On August 2, my 36th birthday, we celebrated by taking a tour of the DMZ. Not many people can say they celebrated part of their birthday in North Korea (even if it was for only a couple minutes). After reading a few reviews on Trip Advisor, we decided to book the USO DMZ tour by Koridoor. The tour was quite educational - especially the Korean movies. We got to watch 1.5 movies on the way to/from the DMZ. Paul and I are still wondering how the movie Gojijeon (The Front Line) ended. We're going to try to find it at some point.

We weren't allowed to freely take photos which kind of stressed me out. We were told when and in what direction we could take them and it usually was only for a few minutes. This kind of limitation makes me nervous and I end up not taking the photos that I would have. Anyway, check out the highlights from the tour. 

We arrived at Camp Bonifas for a briefing by a U.S. soldier

This is the Join Security Area visitor center where we got briefed

We took another bus to the Peace House (which we were not allowed to take photos of).

The Joint Security Area (JSA) where South and North Korean soldiers stand face to face - can you see the NK guy?

Hurry, take a picture before we're not allowed to!

And yes, it is pouring rain. The blue buildings are the South Korean conference rooms.

The microphones are the divider separating North and South Korea in this South Korean conference room.

I'm on the North Korean side!

Our guide told us to stay at least 6 inches away from the soldiers

I got a little closer here but other folks were almost touching them!

All South Korean soldiers have to stand like this in 2 hour shifts - even the ones outside rain or shine

There used to be actual flags of the countries who provide support to South Korea but our guide told us that because the North Koreans would constantly disrespect the flags, they made it into a poster.

We weren't sure how people would react to Paul punching this statue...

After the tour of the Joint Security Area, we headed to the Dorasan train station. This is as north as the train will go in South Korea. It used to go into North Korea but since March of 2013, service stopped since North Korea doesn't acknowledge the armistice anymore. 

Paul is looking south for a train

The tour guide said  I could go on the tracks but we were quickly called back up

Only 205km to Pyeongyang

Empty train station - just tourists

We then headed to the Dora Observatory overlooking the DMZ and is actually the closest to the North

On a clear day, you're supposed to be able to see the North Korean propaganda village

But, like I said before, we usually don't get good weather. I was only allowed to take pics behind the yellow line.

I spy the observation deck where the South Koreans are watching the North Koreans

We then headed to the third infiltration tunnel - one of four tunnels the South Koreans found that the North dug. This was the third tunnel found (in October 1978 based on info from a defector). The North said they were mining for coal...yeah, sure. 

We visited the museum and also were able to walk through the tunnel but pictures weren't allowed within the tunnel. Here are some in the museum. Paul really wanted to punch some of these soldiers. See how anxious he is?

 After a long day, we headed back to Seoul to have a celebratory birthday dinner.

We had dinner at an Italian restaurant at The Plaza Hotel and put on our fanciest clothes; yes, jeans.

Last shot of the night - cool reflections in a puddle outside our hotel


  1. Happy belated birthday. Billy&Esther

  2. Visiting the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) offers a glimpse into the tense border between North and South Korea. Why Game Suspended While the DMZ itself is heavily guarded and restricted, guided tours provide insight into the complex history and geopolitics of the country.


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