Sorry it has been a while since my last blog. I have been pretty busy and also haven’t been getting wifi in my dorm!!!! Ugh, first world problems at its finest. Anyways, I’ll talk a little about my DMZ Tour! I’m not much of a history buff, but I will try my best to summarize what I’ve learned & to keep it fairly short.
For those of you who don’t know, DMZ stands for “demilitarized zone” and was created at the end of the Korean War between the North and South to act as a buffer zone. In the middle of the DMZ is the MDL or “Military Demarcation Line” and is probably the most highly militarized border in the world. Our specific tour didn’t take us to the actual border, but we visited a few other places along the DMZ.
We first visited the Bridge of Freedom that crosses the Military Demarcation Line between the North and South. During the end of the Korean War in 1953, prisoner exchanges occurred on this bridge. The prisoners were actually given the choice to remain in the current country they were in or to cross to the other side. It is also known as the “Bridge of No Return” for that if they chose to cross to the other side, they would never again be allowed to return. Here are some photos.
There was a really neat wall of ribbons and pictures that people pinned at the site to remember their loved ones (that they are currently separated from due to the division or because of a causality in the war).
Next, we went to the 3rd Infiltration Tunnel. It is a secret tunnel built from North Korea that passes through the DMZ into South Korea. So far there have been four tunnels detected (with an estimation of 16 more to be found). The tunnels are obviously designed for a surprise attack on the South from the North. For example, the specific tunnel I visited is estimated to accommodate 30,000 North Korean soldiers per hour along it.
Anyways, we were able to walk down through the tunnel and take a look around. It was both 2 meters in height and width and also built 240 ft. below the ground. Unfortunately, we were unable to take photos! Here are a couple pictures from the Internet of what it looks like, though.
I learned from our tour guide that North Korea claims that the tunnels were built solely to look for coal. The North also says that South Korea lied about its purpose to make money from tourists. Haha. Then why are all four tunnels AIMED at South Korea’s capital?
Our last visit was the Dora Observatory. It is the area of South Korea closest to the North. We were able to look through the telescopes into North Korea and view its buildings nearest to the border. I actually paid for two rounds of using the telescope in hopes to find someone walking around, but everything appeared desolate. Like a ghost town. I could not find a single person in the streets, houses, or simply walking the sidewalks. I learned that North Korea built “fake mansions” in this area so that South Koreans thought there was better life in the North. In reality, South Korea has a booming economy (with major companies like Hyundai, LG, Samsung), and the North has turned into a poor and closed society.
Here are some more photos of the day!
I apologize for such a dry blog. I wasn’t sure how to make light of it, because the tour was everything but that. I will say that it was an overall memorable experience to have been able to peer into a country that is so unknown to the rest of the world.