The DMZ, Roller Coasters and Starcraft 2!

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August 9th 2010
Published: August 8th 2010
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A few things I've done over the passed few days...

Visited the DMZ, short for demilitarized zone, right along the 38th parallel running from coast to coast. Ironically it's the most heavily militarized border there is with Korean, American and UN troops guarding the perimeter at all times. Many incidents around the DMZ have happend since the 1953 armistice such as shootouts, guerrilla incursions, and secret tunnels built underneath for an eventual invasion by North Korea.

The only way there was to book with a travel agency, which I did back in Seoul. The day of, we took the bus to the border, passing major roadblocks, guard towers, and mine fields. Sadly there are loads of mines on both sides of the dmz. Then we went to see the special train station built by the south in the eventual hope that they'll be able to use that means of transport to allow commuters and cargo through the north and to other places. It doesn't seem like that's a realistic expectation however, not any time soon. Our guide was quite animating, making many jokes, but still telling us about the sad state of North Korea. We then went to the observatory hill, where I got a good view of North Korea and the town of Kaesong. They used to do tours to that town until a civilian was killed a couple of years ago. Photography restrictions were intense and I couldn't get a good shot of the North because we had to stand behind a far away line. Next up was the tunnel, discovered in 1978, one of a few and would have been apparently used by the North for an incursion. The tunnel was 70m underground and accessed by a slanted shaft. Down there was incredibly moist but very cool which was great cuz it was stifling outside. Photograhpy was not allowed.

Does reunification seem possible? As of now it's very unlikely. The North Koreans, or more specifically the government there, and by proxy the rest of the populace who are only fed biased information from them and are completely cut off from the world, are extremely proud and have a messed up ideology. Our guide claimed they would most likely fight to the last man than ever surrender.

I went to a theme park named Everland near a town called Yongin, about 40 minutes from Seoul. It's the largest amusement park in Korea and reminded me of Disneyland with very similar themes and architecture. On the bus there a Korean guy sat next to me and seemed very excited to talk. He asked me to come along with him and his gf although his gf did not seem happy about this as it was supposed to be their day together, and I felt pretty awkward. Luckily they did end up going off on their own when I said I had to wait in a long line for a ticket.

The coolest thing there was the T-Express roller coaster, entirely made of wood and the longest in Asia. The coasters initial drop was 77 degrees making it the steepest for a wood coaster and the longest at three minutes. It went over 100km/h and a GForce of 4.5! The went on another one about four times with two loops and two corkscrews, the line was short for it but the ride was way shorter. I went on some other rides like the pirate ship, hurricane, and some spinning crap. There was one ride called the Rock 'n Roll express that I visualized myself throwing up on so I skipped it.

There was a zoo in the park as well showcasing giraffes, lions, bears that performed some tricks, etc. The saddest thing I saw was a polar bear outside that seemed to be going insane in the intense heat. There were also parrots, monkeys, sea creatures and different kinds of mammals. There was also a flower park dedicated to Holland on the other end. I was happy when it started raining because it took the edge off the heat, although this is the rainy period here but rain only falls for a half hour max and then stops...till further notice.

The funniest thing that happend on there was the bumper cars. Maybe it was just the people in the other cars but we started out and everyone was driving the cars in the same direction and avoiding confrontation. I thought this was ridiculous so I 180'ed and drove right into this chick that had the look of horror. And that's when everyone else went crazy and started smashing into each other. No one seemed to want to take the initiative to confront though...could it be a Korean thing?

The PC Bong (internet cafe) is of great modern day cultural importance to the Koreans, or at least a large percentage of them. Inside the PC Bong one finds many, mostly male but increasingly female users, playing their favourite video games online or surfing the net. Many are smoking and/or eating junk food at the same time. Starcraft and Warcraft are the top played games here, in fact there are even pro-gamers here and TV channels dedicated to these games and more. It really is a cultural explosion. I arrived in Korea at the right time, mainly because Starcraft 2 had just been released, and being a huge fan of the original and waiting more than ten years for this sequel it was perfect. Or it should of been perfect...except all the SC2's were in Korean, NO!!

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