A turtle travels only when it sticks its neck out ~Korean Proverb

5.12.05

DMZ

Warning: Satire abounds.

So I went to the “De”militarized Zone with some Ewha students and faculty. It was a trip arranged by the International office, which left at around 10 am in the morning from the back gate. We were herded onto a bus complete with a tour guide who gave us information for a good portion of the trip to the DMZ (which is located about an hour and a half north of Seoul). It’s actually very close…but the heavy city traffic is responsible for the extended transit time. Also, we had to go through a checkpoint or two to get near the border. At one point we had to have our passports checked by a soldier who came onto the bus. For those who are unaware, the DMZ is a band of ground, about 4-6 km wide, and stretching the entire peninsula, which South Koreans and North Koreans are generally supposed to leave alone, save for large south Korean chaebols who build factories there…via government corruption played off as friendly economic cooperation between north and south. First we stopped off at a checkpoint for tourists about 1 km from the DMZ band. There was food, memorials, postcards, and temples…everything a historic site needs to be legitimate. After precisely 30 minutes…our tour guide was an itinerary martinet…we departed and headed to one of the secret tunnels that South Korean soldiers found a number of years ago, after the division of the country, which was intended to be used for an armed surprise assault. The tunnel was about 70 meters underground and was capable of transporting up to something like 20,000 soldiers in one hour. Of course, through the tour, there was obvious South Korean propaganda and biasing. This is not to say that I think North Korea was right in any instance, but to say that it looks bad if you constantly preface the two words “North Koreans” with several undesirable adjectives. It was like kindergarten, where you call one kid a “poopy head” or “stupid face”…except with less childish words…and more broken English. The tunnel was actually really cool though. It was amazing to see all the digging the North Koreans had done. I even took a rock from the tunnel as a souvenir, but managed to lose it…probably accidentally dropping it on South Korean soil…how symbolic. After exiting the tunnel we went into a museum, saw a cheesy movie, and looked at some exhibits. I personally found it very interesting because I had read about many of the confrontations in several history books before I arrived in Korea…and I got to see some artifacts from several accounts. After the tunnel/museum stop we went to an observatory on top of a mountain in the DMZ. Basically, you went there to look at North Korea through binoculars or a big viewing room. The funny part was…outside, on the observation deck, you could walk up to the rail and look through binoculars but if you wanted to take a picture you had to do so behind a yellow line; a yellow line that was set back about 20 feet such that you couldn’t shoot pictures over the rail or get a view of anything interesting except the tops of people’s heads as they used the binoculars. I made Nico, who subsequently lost all his pictures, take a picture of the yellow line…as it was the most interested attraction on the observation deck. After the mountain observation center we went to a railroad station that was being built in the DMZ for future use between Pyongyang and Seoul. I am not sure when it will be completed…but what is important is that Hyundai is making trillions of won constructing and maintaining the facility. On a side note, I got my passport stamped there with some sort of DMZ symbol thing. It looks pretty cool. After the railway station we went back to the tourist place for lunch. I ate blood sausage, liver, whole shrimp, and spicy red food. After my normal lunch we went to some village located near the DMZ in South Korea. I don’t know what it had to do with the DMZ at all, but it is a famous art village and I got to see some modern art and meet some famous artists. It was cool, and then we left. I slept on the ride home on the bus. Afterwards, Nico and I took out some IEI faculty to a bar and then returned home. It was a good day, and I slept very well that night.

And sorry about the lack of cool pictures…we kind of weren’t allowed to take pictures in many places…because you know…it was illegal and they had guns.


A Bridge for Hyundai trucks to carry supplies into the DMZ with. Also for soldiers. And tour buses.


A very good picture, actually. Thanks to Jess for the pictures, and a "Damn you Nico for
messing up your memory card" goes out to Nico.

Japan and Korea, working together since...2005.

White picket fence.

The DMZ is famous for two things: Being some of the most dangerous and contested
land on earth, and rice. Natural good rice. The barbed wire helps digestion.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

very interesting post^^.That post make me I remembered that I went tnere. (My English is not good yet, so please bear with me.)

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

it seems to be a very interesting place. while I'm reading it, some images from chinese war movies came into my mind. heheh.. digging tunnels for armed attack? it sounds very communist. =P

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