Blogs from DMZ, South Korea, Asia


Asia » South Korea » DMZ June 11th 2014

While intense and intimidating, I did not find the Korean demilitarized zone (DMZ) the scariest place on earth so called by former President Bill Clinton. I took a USO sponsored tour to the DMZ a few days ago and was actually kind of surprised how calm it appeared. After a US Army briefing, we were escorted on a bus from Camp Bonifas at the DMZ boundary right through to Panmunjeom which straddles the military demarcation line (MDL). Each country has 2 buildings right across the MDL (called the Joint Security Area, or JSA, here) and we could enter one of the South Korean's where there were 2 South Korean soldiers on guard: one standing across the MDL; the other entirely in North Korea. We then proceeded to checkpoint #3 which, through a demarcation oddity, is surrounded ... read more
JSA and North Korea
North Korean Soldier Checking Us Out
North Korean Building at the JSA

Asia » South Korea » DMZ May 4th 2013

The Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea is one of the most famous and heavily fortified borders in the world, and we've been planning to visit since we arrived. One Friday evening, my friend Jackie and I got the KTX from Busan to Seoul. We stayed in the same hostel in Itaewon, Seoul's multi-cultural district, and finally managed to find a quiet bar for a few drinks. Despite out best intentions we ended up going to bed a lot later than planned, and the big excitement of the night was finding salt and vinegar crisps tucked away in a tiny shop! The next morning we were booked to do a DMZ tour with USO tours. We had to get up early to meet the group at 07:30 but got to doze a bit on ... read more
NK soldiers
Bridge of no Return
MDL sneak photo

Asia » South Korea » DMZ November 17th 2012

Two weeks later and i'm back again with some stories! Last weekend I helped out at Sogang's International exchange program fair, I visited Seodaemun prison and I hiked Chiaksan mountain in Wonju. Seodaemun Prison This prison was built during the Japanese occupation period of the Korean peninsula between 1910-1945. It was especially used to imprison and torture Korean independence fighters during that time. Overall, the feel of the prison reminded me of the Elmina Slave Castle in Cape Coast Ghana. The atmosphere was very eerie. The basement level was solely for torturing prisoners and there was actually an extra building designated for executions. For me, i'm such a wimp when it comes to these things. When i'm aware that people were previously murdered/tortured/beaten in a place, I get really spooked out! Overall the prison was interesting, ... read more
Sogang Exchange Fair
Care Package!!!

Asia » South Korea » DMZ November 4th 2012

This story really starts before I even get to South Korea. At the end of September I booked myself a two month trip to Bali, Indonesia. I specifically chose to fly Korean Air, and paid a bit more for the privilege, because I enjoyed flying with them so much before. I was scheduled to leave at 11:50 pm on Tuesday the 23rd and arrive on Thursday the 25th with a 12 hour layover in Seoul. At 1:30pm on Tuesday I got an e-mail from the third party website through which I had booked the tickets "your flight is no longer operational, would you like to reschedule to Thursday the 25th or cancel your booking for a full refund? Please respond ASAP" W.T.F. I wanted neither of those things, I wanted to leave when I was scheduled ... read more

Asia » South Korea » DMZ August 27th 2012

As I left Korea, one lasting impression was of the confusing mixture of sentiments and thoughts that I encountered concerning the Korean War. First, we would do well to remember that Korea was first split after World War II, before the Korean War. Korea had been controlled by the Japanese Empire in the decades preceding World War II, and much like Europe, was split amongst the Allied powers after the war. Control of the South was given to the American military, the North fell under Soviet military control. Differences smoldered when free elections were not held as planned in 1948. Then, in 1950, the North invaded the South. The UN quickly became involved. Their action was in part made possible by the fact that the Soviet Union was boycotting the UN at the time over the ... read more
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Asia » South Korea » DMZ June 7th 2012

today was the day that I got to go to the DMZ (I am sure that everyone knows that stands for De-Militarised Zone) which is the 2 km zone in both North and South Korea on either side of the MDL (military demarcation line). Supposedly you are supposed to book them three days or more ahead. Fortunately with the help of the guy at the hanok in Bukjong he did this for me with this particular company. Although most of them will collect from most hotels, this was not actually much use to me as at the time of booking I did not actually know where I was actually going to be. So the idea of waiting for the tour bus at a particular subway exit bus stop was certainly preferable to me. However I almost ... read more
Panmunjeon-JSA caps
the bridge over to North Korea
DMZ Imjingak plaque

Asia » South Korea » DMZ May 5th 2012

We were picked up just after 7am to start our ‘DMZ tour’ with VIPTours in Seoul. To be honest I was a bit skeptical when our tour guide was wearing 4 inch heels, pink and purple splatter painted skinny jeans, a jersey top, a bejewelled baseball hat and was so proud to be the same height as Lady Gaga. She proved me wrong and ended up being a great guide who was so interesting to talk to about South Korean politics and government. The demilitarized zone between North and South Korea is about 250 km long and 4km wide. It is the most heavily militarized border in the world! On our drive out to the DMZ there is a huge barbed wire fence and guard posts all along the Han River to keep out North Korean ... read more
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Asia » South Korea » DMZ April 25th 2012

We woke up early today for our DMZ tour. DMZ stands for De-Militarized Zone, the area between the North and South Korea that marks their boundary. The tour was supposed to start at 8am, but we were told that we would be picked up at 7:25am. While we were having breakfast, our tourist guide came in our guesthouse and told us that he was picking us up… at 7:05am! So we quickly finished our breakfast and packed our things. My Mom was really angry with the tourist guide because she doesn’t want to be rushed. But we got to the tourist bus just in time. It was raining very hard and Mom was worried on how we can get by with the tour. Good thing she brought her umbrella, but she said she doesn’t want to ... read more

Asia » South Korea » DMZ January 2nd 2012

First, a belated Happy New Year! The last month was the one I had been semi-dreading—because of being away from family around the holidays. My friends here worked together to make the holidays as positive as possible, and I got to vicariously experience Thanksgiving and Christmas via Skype, so I did thoroughly enjoy all the holidays.They were as good as they could have been away from my wonderful family. This blog should be mainly about my visit to Seoul at the end of November, so let me tell you about that. Well, I had some grand sightseeing plans, most of which didn’t turn out. Friday, we basically just had beers outside the convenience store while it rained (actually, it was enjoyable anyways because of the company), then ate at TACO BELL. Yes, it was exciting to ... read more
Taco Bell!
Inside Panmunjom
Panmunjom 2

Asia » South Korea » DMZ February 17th 2011

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