The DMZ and stepping into North Korea (and no, we didn't need Bill Clinton's help getting out)
Paju Travel Blog› entry 70 of 79 › view all entries
August 8th, 2009 – by: princeza_9
The Bridge is important because at the end of the Korean War, that's where POWs were exchanged. It's named this because once a person crossed that bridge, they couldn't go back.
The first stop (after lunch) was Imjingak. It's a park with monuments and statues relating to the Korean War. The Freedom Bridge is another place where POWs were swapped. I walked along part of it, but it's blocked partway across by a board with ribbons and paper on it. On top, barbed wire. We didn't have much time here, so I quickly took some pictures of a bell and a stone wall memorial. From there, to the JSA.
The JSA (Joint Security Area) is on the border between North and South Korea. Before we could even get out of the bus at Camp Bonifas (inside the JSA) our passports were checked twice, and our dress code was checked.
Yup, there's a dress code for this tour. No ripped jeans, no flip-flops, etc. Neat and clean appearance. They say it's because North Korea will take pictures and use them as propaganda material.
At Camp Bonifas, we were breifed on history and current events. Then there was the waiver- absolving South Korea, the US, and the UN in case of hostilities, etc. Essentially, we were about to enter an area where our safety couldn't be guaranteed. But the fact that the area's been calm for a while now, plus the ROK soldiers all around, I didn't feel shaky at all. From there, we got on the bus for a 10 minute drive up to the JSA.
We weren't allowed to take pictures as we pleased at Camp Bonifas or the JSA. There were designated photo areas and that was it.
So, yup, I stepped into North Korea, wasn't grabbed, and didn't need Bill to come bail me out.
From there we went to the Freedom House Pagoda where we were allowed to take pictures again. After a few minutes where, we went back to the bus to the gift shop. And a really cool souvenir- the waiver we signed. WooHoo!
From there, back to Seoul and back to Suwon and an early night (though I did manage to watch some *ahem* Power Rangers on YouTube) since I had to be up early for my flight back to Beijing.
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