Sunday, April 3, 2011

DMZ Tour - 1st Time

The first time I went to the DMZ I went on my own in 2002. I didn't go to the JSA. My tour took me to Imjin, Dora San station, and the 3rd Tunnel.

Imjin is the name of the river that separates part of the DMZ from South Korea. Imjingak is a place where the tour buses congregate before heading into the DMZ. There are some touristy sites there as well as tourist traps. There is also a park and an amusement park.

The "Bridge of Freedom" is located there. It is a railroad bridge that crosses the Imjin into the DMZ. The bridge was last used to repatriate POW's coming back from the north.

South Koreans who visit this area, they are allowed to come here but needed special permission to enter the DMZ, will post letters, notes, and placards on the fence that blocks the entrance to the bridge.

There is a an area with a special memorial altar and bell.

North Koreans who have fled to the South come here on special occasions, like Chuseok. Since they can't see their family they come here to honour them.

It was a strange to see the area. Part of it is very sombre, even depressing at times. Another part is a tourist trap area with an amusement park.

From here we boarded the bus and headed into the DMZ to see Dora San Station. It is a very modern, fully staffed train station that is meant to be the last stop before proceeding into North Korea by train. Or conversely, the 1st stop coming into South Korea from the North.

Once again it was a strange place to be. The station was fully staffed with a heavy military presence. But NO trains ever came here and no one knew if or when they ever would. The only patrons were tourists.

We didn't spend a lot of time at the station. Then we hopped on the bus and headed off to the 3rd Tunnel of Aggression.

The 3rd tunnel is just what the name implies, the 3rd tunnel that was discovered dug from North Korea into the South. These tunnels would be used to sneak troops into the south in the event of war.

It was an interesting place. Before going down into the tunnel proper we went through a museum about the DMZ and the Korean War. The museum ended with a short film about the families that have been split apart. It really tore at your heart. Especially the scenes about family members seeing each other for the first time since the war ... and the ones who showed up but there family from the North didn't.

Then we took a little train down into the tunnel and walked to where it is now blocked off. At one time you would be able to see into the North Korean portion of the tunnel. For safety reasons they ended up walling the entrance off.

Just before the area we get back on the buses and can buy souvenirs there is a statue that is meant to represent the desire to reunite the two Koreas. A lot of people get their pictures taken as if they were one of the figures pushing towards reunification. I had to wait a while to get a picture of just the statue.

After popping into the souvenir shop it was time to board the bus for the trip back to Seoul. All in all it was an interesting trip. I regretted not getting to the JSA and decided Iw ould come back again and see it.


  1. i'm planning to visit DMZ some time in June. That means you followed tour? Is it possible to go to DMZ by public transport and not tour?

  2. As far as I know you can only go into teh DMZ on an official tour.