Saturday............the DMZ between North and South Korea
Seoul Travel Blog› entry 125 of 129 › view all entries
Iâ€™ve arranged to go on a tour to the DMZ. Iâ€™ve always wanted to go to Panmunjom, the joint security area used by the UN and North Korea, the Freedom House, where the South and North Koreans meet, the Bridge of No Return, where North and South Korean POWs were exchanged after the Korean War and similar places.
Unfortunately I didnâ€™t realize until I got to Seoul that to go to the most sensitive places requires registration a week in advance. As an interesting, but rather sad, aside, Koreans are not permitted to go on the tour to Panmunjom, but only to the tour to the DMZ.
So Iâ€™m picked up at 7:40. As we head north, I notice that thereâ€™s lots of barbed wire and sentry boxes between the road and the river.
The first place we visit is Imjingak Park, about 50 kilometres northwest of Seoul. This has become the place where South Koreans have come to pray for their families and friends who are in North Korea.
From there we go to the Freedom Bridge, where many war captives were purported to have entered South Korea after the Korean War, shouting â€śhurrah for freedomâ€ť.
We then go to what is called the 3rd Infiltration Tunnel, being the third known tunnel dug by the North Koreans and found by South Koreans only 44 kms north of Seoul in 1978.
Next stop was the Dora Observatory, built in 1986, where we were able to look over the DMZ to North Korea, but had to stand behind a yellow line to take photos. Rather amusing when you think that any spy could just have a hidden camera and take whatever photos they wanted while pretending to just be looking. The Dora Observatory is the nearest point to North Korea from South Korea.
Because there are no people permitted in the DMZ, it has become a sanctuary for the native flora and fauna.
The final stop for the interesting part of the tour was to the Dorasan Station which is the northernmost station in South Korea and was built since 2000 when the two Koreas agreed to resume train communications between the two countries.
After that we went to an amethyst jewellers, but thatâ€™s just one of those deals where they try to sell you goods at inflated places.
Tour finished around 2:15. I went to Itaewon Shopping district, walked around for ages and around 4:00 found a place that served wine, plus I was able to pick up wifi. (Iâ€™d taken my puter with me) It was really weird as I wanted something other than peanuts to eat, but was told that there was no food before 6 pm. Around 5 pm a couple came in, the waiter cooked a meal for them on the bbq. When I left around 5:30 I asked how come I was told there was no food, but the others in the restaurant were given a meal. The answer, oh no, they only had a bbqâ€¦..like a bbq isnâ€™t food?
Went back to the hotel and watched tv.