Thursday, March 25

Korea-Japan, Day Three: The DMZ

Today we got all real and went to the Demilitarised Zone, the 2km wide buffer between North and South Korea. To be honest the history and story behind the border as told by our guide was more fascinating than the wire fence (the North and South are still at war apparently) but the sense of scale was pretty tremendous, perhaps more so than other contentious borders I've been to.

A cool part of the trip was visiting one of the three underground tunnels to the South dug by the North during their attempt at invading Seoul. It's probably a bit of a cliche, but you could almost visualise the armed forced sneaking in for an attack - we were allowed to go pretty deep into the tunnel, and not far off from the border proper. Apparently there's many more tunnels still around, laying undiscovered.

During the morning session we were also taken to Dorasan International, the northmost station in South Korea. This would be where South Korea would be linked by rail to the rest of Asia and even Europe, and although there is a railway it leads to nowhere at the moment.

After lunch we were taken to the Joint Security Area or Panmunjeom. This is the only place along the border where there isn't a 4km wide buffer zone - in other words we were able to come face to face with North Korea. It was pretty weird seeing North Korean guards checking us out with their binoculars (and sometimes hiding behind pillars while they did so).

In the centre of the JSA is a negotiation room and inside that a table which straddled the border (BSG fans: it was a bit like that negotiation station in the first episode). We had free access to this room, and so were effectively able to hop back and forth across the border too. Other interesting sites included the "Bridge of no Return", as depicted in Die Another Day.

After returning to the capital we headed to the N Seoul Tower to check out views of the city. It was quite electric at night, although it did make me realise how small the place was.

The temperature dropped today. It was freezing.

1 comment:

  1. watch JSA

    It's set on the DMZ. great movie.