DMZ & 3rd Infiltration Tunnel
Paju Travel Blog› entry 7 of 10 › view all entries
One of my main goals on this trip was to see North Korea! Since we came all this way, I figured we needed to at least try to get up to the border, even though tensions are on the rise again. We booked a tour through the hotel which unfortunately picked us up prior to 8am and after a late night at Toto, I was not looking forward to getting up at 6am!!! Uuuugh.
We met our tour guide, Jenny, in the lobby who we loved right off the bat. She was super energetic and a bubbly personality. We then headed off to make a couple more stops at various hotels. Final count was 11 people - a couple even from the
As we were driving, the first thing I noticed was the intense barbed wire and military type posts along the river….literally, right out of
A few more minutes on the road, we could actually see
Imjingak was our first stop on the tour and is actually called a tourist resort. It had a small amusement / carnival type area, an observatory, a small food and vendor mart.
Imjingak was developed after the
The first stop we made was to the Korean Peace Bell which contains is representative of the peace and unification desire by the South Korean people.
There is a pond which was drained (seemed to be our luck of the trip) which was in the shape of North and
The main attraction in this area is the
It was that moment that the reality of the situation finally hit me. I am not standing here on a typical ancient history tour….this is history in the making. Standing there looking at the messages written on the gate, the flowers and trinkets left behind, a cold chill came over me. You could almost hear the cries in the breeze, and feel the pain of those who stood around me. For me, this was just a place to tour, no different than a trip to a museum. For them, this is real and a painful reminder of their lives, while still clinging to hope and faith they will be reunited with loves ones soon.
Annually, Imjingak receives 2-3 million visitors, many of which are from
3rd Infiltration Tunnel
We board a bigger bus in Imjingak to head to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and see the 3rd Infiltration Tunnel which was discovered at the point of just 52km from
The tunnel is 1,635m in length, 2m in width, and only 2m in height.
The North Koreans claim the tunnel was trying to mine for coal but the walls are granite, so they claimed they could not find any coal. They needed to dig under the DMZ and straight towards Seoul to figure that one out?!?! YEAH RIGHT! Also, we saw parts of the tunnel they painted black to give the appearance of coal. Rumor has it the tunnel was discovered by a tip from a North Korean defector. It was eerie to stand in the tunnel, knowing the history and its purpose. Our guide advised they believe to be many more tunnels, they have just not discovered them yet. The 4th tunnel was just discovered in 1990.
The next stop was to actually see North Korea villages and another place you can't really take photos.
The Dorasan train station is the northernmost international station from the southern boundary line of the DMZ. The station drew world attention when President Bush visited here in February 2002. In the future, this station will play an important role in realizing the Iron Silk Road that will connect through to the rest of Asia and even Europe throgh Gaeseong, Pyeongyang, and Sinuijiu. It took 52 years for the Gyeonguiseon railroad to be built to Dorasan Station in the controlled district for civilian use.
On December 11, 2007, freight trains began traveling north past Dorasan Station into North Korea, taking materials to the new industrial region and bringing back finished goods.
This was an incredible stop because it really shows South Korea's commitment to the unification of the country again. The station is heavily guarded and signs are up showing future the future destination of Pyeongyang in North Korea, they are just waiting for the green light to go. The station is brand new and definitely state of the art. It was eerily empty except for the few tourists wandering around. The South Korean soldiers
Tongilchon (Unification Village)
Tongilchon is in the northern area of the Civilian Control Line and has 133 families and a total of 493 residents. There is an agricultural marketing center here sells local farm produce. The market sells some interesting products and is a very popular stop on the tours, especially because you can purchase Ginseng at much more reasonable prices. Some of the local products sold in the market are uncurdled Jangdan bean curd (sundubu), seasoned mountain herbs, traditional liquors, and maeuntang (hot soup).
We got to tour the area briefly and checked out the market, some of the products were very interesting.