Friday, April 23, 2010

Dad's visit - Day 2 : The DMZ

The DMZ trip was a full day ordeal. We were up early and at the USO offices by 7:00 in the morning. We were then loaded on a bus and took the almost two-hour trip up the the Demilitarized Zone, which stretches 5 km north and south of the border.

After switching busses at the 5 km mark (only certain vehicles were allowed past the gate), we went to Camp Bonifas for the briefing. From there is was off to the Joint Security Area. The JSA is the site you see in most of the pictures - the buildings right at the front line, where the two sides have soldiers that just stand there and stare at each other.

Soldiers stand half protected by buildings, in case someone starts shooting. You can almost spot the North Korean soldier at the top of the steps on the left.

ROK soldier in the JSA.

Then we were off to Checkpoint 3, which is surrounded on three sides by North Korea, and which also gives a good view of the enormous flagpole in NK's Propaganda Village :

View from Checkpoint 3.

The giant flagpole in Propaganda Village (one of the tallest in the world).

On the way to the next stop, we rolled by the Bridge of No Return, where, at the end of the war, prisoners were given a last chance to return home.

The next stop was the 3rd Tunnel. There have been a number of tunnels that have been found that run from the North toward Seoul that could be used to invade. We were able to go down into the tunnel, and it was quite a hike. Once in the tunnel we weren't able to go too far in, since we're a little taller than the average Korean.

Map of the tunnels, since no cameras were allowed inside.

Wood carvings near the tunnel.

Our last stops were at the Dora Observatory and the Dorasan train station. We had to stay behind a line to take pictures, and it was cloudy, so we weren't able to get great pictures. The train station has been open for a few years, and it's all ready to go once they open up the border between the North and South again.

After the long day, we spent a while wandering around and trying the street food in Myeongdong (the downtown area). As many times as I've gone, it was the first time I had eaten so much, and so much great food.

The final installment should be up some time soon - hopefully sooner than this one!

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