Sunday, October 21, 2012

DMZ Korea

On a recent work trip to Korea I had the opportunity to steal a couple of days to see a little. It was my first visit to the country. I went to the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ). A big thank you to my wonderful colleague Wonjin for arranging it for me. It was a fascinating trip. The first stop on the tour is Imjingak National Tourist Resort. It has been created to preserve the pains and sorrows of the Korean War and the North South confrontations

This is the train that used to run to Sinuiju and this is the Railroad Discontinuation Point. There is a sign that says "The train wants to run". The train will wait patiently until Unification Day when it will once again make the 940km journey to the end of the line at Sinuiju
The photo shows the view from the Resort of the Freedom Bridge. 12,773 Korean prisoners of war, seeking freedom, returned to South Korea via the bridge on foot in 1953
This is what is at the end of the footbridge that you can see in the photo above with people walking on it. The overwhelming message from South Korea in the DMZ is how much they feel the pain of the separation of Korea and how much they hope the country will become united again

Having fun!

This is the Mangbaedan Altar. It was built in 1985. It is an altar for people displaced by the Korean War. 5 million people in the North fled their hometowns for the South to avoid the persecution and atrocities perpetrated by the Russian troops and North Korea's Communist Party

Cheeky chappies!

I don't understand the words but the picture depicts the Ginseng root which is native to Korea because of the climate

Special secret weapons! The soldiers in the DMZ were cheerful and friendly

Monument of Homesick Song

Compulsory military service in South Korea is said to be the toughest in the region. We left the Resort and travelled to one of the tunnels that the South Koreans discovered in the DMZ. A total of four tunnels have been discovered so far, but there are believed to be up to twenty more. South Korean and UN soldiers regularly drill in the Korean Demilitarized Zone in hope of finding more


Soldiers lending a hand taking photos for the tourists

Just to prove I was there!

This statue at the Third Tunnel symbolises the desire of the South Korean people for the two parts of Korea to be reunited

The 3rd Tunnel (of Aggression) was discovered on October 17, 1978. It is located 52km from Seoul. It was estimated that it took approximately an hour for 10,000 soldiers to move through the tunnel. When this tunnel was first discovered, North Koreans insisted it was made by South Koreans in a plot to invade North Korea. However, this theory proved eventually to be false

We walked into the tunnel on foot. There is a long slope which takes you 70 metres underground. From there you walk along the tunnel for a fair distance. For small groups of people there is a monorail. This is a picture of the monorail station. I didn't have time to wait for the train to come back up. No photos are allowed inside the tunnel

You have to wear a hard hat. It was particularly useful for me. The tunnel is very low and I often hit my head against the roof. But the hat protected me from any damage

A little girl enjoying having her photo taken. There were lots of children visiting the DMZ

This is the view of North Korea from the Dora Observatory. Look closely and you will see a line of trucks moving from the North to the South. A lot of business takes place despite the fact that the North and South are still officially at war

It is the South's most northern observatory for watching North Korean activities

It was hard to take photos because of the photo line. If you take photos outside of the box created by the line and you are seen by a soldier they will confiscate your camera. I succeeded in taking the ones I did by stretching like the woman in the photo. Lucky I am quite tall!

They told us that weapons are hidden in the mountains

It was a highlight of the trip to be able to take a peek into this reclusive country. Hard to take in that a line  separates so many opposites but that the people are the same

The entrance to the observatory

The observatory offers 500 seats, VIP rooms, and abundant parking space. It was first opened to the public in January 1987. Before you go out to the observatory area the military will show you a film about the DMZ

The last stop on the tour before returning to Seoul is Dorasan station

Dorasan Station is a railroad station situated on the Gyeongui Line, which once connected North and South Korea and has now been restored

The caption is in the photo!
No trains yet to Pyongyang but the hope is always there

The station is modern, new and squeaky clean

On December 1, 2008, the North Korean government closed the border crossing, after accusing South Korea of a confrontational policy

A soldier

Autumn colours......

......are a treat to see when you live in Singapore! In a couple of weeks I will post photos I took of Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul