Sunday, December 27, 2015

DMZ Tour

Today we took a guided tour of the DMZ, the 2.5-mile wide zone that separates North and South Korea. It was extremely interesting and I learned a lot (previously most of what I knew about the Korean War was from watching M*A*S*H).

Our USO-sponsored bus tour left Seoul and we drove an hour north to the DMZ.  (By the way, if you are interested in the subject, the Wikipedia article has quite a good summary.)

Our first stop was the major visitor center, which had a museum display, a film, and the entrance to the third tunnel.

In 1974, the South Koreans discovered an invasion tunnel under the DMZ that the North Koreans built. Between then and 1990, three more tunnels were discovered. We went into the third tunnel, but we were not allowed to take photographs. The entrance was a gently sloping tunnel of 350 meters. At the bottom you could see the end of the invasion tunnel.

Museum diorama of building the tunnel
Sculpture showing the attempt to put the two halves of the country back together
Our next stop was an observation site where we could look over the border into North Korea. Unfortunately, there was a good bit of air pollution, so our view wasn't that great.

We visited the Gyeongui railway station where it is possible to take the train from South to North. The roofline symbolizes the joining of the two countries.

There were several art displays inside. It is a large hall and many peace conferences have been held there. One of the items on display was this piano strung with barbed wire.

There was a large park we visited next. But it was a very cold day and we didn't have much time to tour around. I'm sure it would be interesting to see more if the weather was cooperative. This memorial is a shrine where South Koreans can come and pray for their relatives in the North.

As we drove out of the DMZ, we could see this bridge that connects the two countries. I'm not sure there is any traffic allowed on it.

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