Blogs from DMZ, South Korea, Asia

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Asia » South Korea » DMZ June 17th 2015

Todays plan was that we would be going to the DMZ where there is the border of the two Koreas. We were picked up by a car from our guesthouse and taken to the place where the bus was waiting. Unfortunately we were told that the main attraction was closed because of the MERS outbreak and instead we went to the Gangwha Peace Observatory. On the way to the observatory our guide Mr. SP "special present" Hong (he wanted us to call him SP rather than mister Hong) told us about the Demilitarized zone. He told us that the DMZ was established in 1953, it's 4 km wide, there are about 1 million soldiers altogether, and 2 million landmines. The Peace observatory is the nearest observatory to North Korea. First we saw a 5 minute video ... read more
Bulgogi and Kimchi stew
Itaewon
Itaewon

Asia » South Korea » DMZ April 17th 2015

Hyundais ready for shipment filled the Port of Incheon as we arrived in South Korea this morning. It was a little chilly when we walked to our bus this morning for our tour but the sun was shining and there was no smog from China. When we arrived at the DMZ area we were surprised to see rides and gift shops near the Freedom Bridge. We used the restroom facility there and then reboarded the bus to go to the DMZ third tunnel. We were warned by our guide to take pictures only from behind this yellow line on the observation deck. The line was four feet from the wall and had view finders that were in the way. After taking our photos we approached the wall and obeyed the rule until a huge group of ... read more
Third Tunnel Monument
View of North Korea
Hard Hats for Hard Heads

Asia » South Korea » DMZ March 17th 2015

The day started pretty early for us. We had to get up at 6 am because today we were finally going to go on the tour I was looking forward to the entire trip: the demilitarized zone, so almost North Korea! We took the metro the office of our tour organizers from where we took a bus to the DMZ. The tour was by http://www.koridoor.co.kr/ and it was well organized. Our first stop was a viewing platform from where you could look over to North Korea. Unfortunately the weather was really bad, so we didn’t see much, but it is said that with good conditions you are even able to see people on the other side of the border. My camera was so confused by the fog that it didn’t know what to focus on, so ... read more
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Asia » South Korea » DMZ October 10th 2014

Tunnels, the DMZ and Trains to Nowhere Incheon, South Korea 8:30am on this cloudy morning and we’re off to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between South and North Korea. This is an area 2 ½ miles wide roughly on either side of the 38th parallel. The area is accidently a wildlife refuge and is a “no man’s land” or “buffer zone” between the two countries, overseen by peace keeping forces and led by the Americans. It is the worlds most heavily guarded boarder running 148 miles. Our tour guide told us that young children in South Korea are taken to the American Memorial with a statue of General MacArthur as he is their hero for coming to their aid. The trip out to the DMZ took about an hour by bus. As we headed out north out ... read more

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 was entirely in North Korea. We then proceeded to checkpoint #3 which, through a demarcation oddity, is ... read more
Specialist Woods at the JSA
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
Mannheim
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




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