01.03.2012 18 °C
We are having a great time in South Korea and have seen so many interesting sites so far. We decided to take a day trip up to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea to experience “the most heavily guarded border in the world.”
The division of Korea happened in 1945, after World War II. This division ended Japan’s 35 year colonial rule of the country and was the result of a decision made by the victorious allies. The U.S.A. occupied the southern part of the 38th parallel, and the Soviet military occupied the North. Tensions grew as free elections failed to take place, and North Korea became a Communist state and South Korea adapted a Capitalist government. On June 25, 1950 North Korea invaded South Korea in one of the first armed conflicts of the Cold War. The Korean War continued for three years until an Armistice Agreement was signed by the United Nations Command. There was no peace treaty signed, and this was considered the end of the war. Unfortunately, more than a million people were killed in the war.
Today, the DMZ is considered very safe, and hostilities rarely take place. So we paid our 77,000 won and off we headed to get a glimpse into North Korea and the tension that lies between them and South Korea. First stop was a security checkpoint in which all of our passports were checked at Panmunjom. We continued along on the “freedom highway” which is about six lanes wide with no lines on the road. At about 10:30 am we arrived at Camp Bonifas, which is a camp close to the border. We were then given strict security instructions and protocol procedures for the rest of the tour. We proceeded to see the conference room where North and South Korea hold negotiations. There are three microphones that form a line down the the conference table. This symbolizes the physical divide between North and South Korea. We were given strict instructions not to smile, wave, or show any emotion to the North Korean guards that stood guard on the other side of the room as it can be turned into propaganda. We were tempted to make faces at the grim faced guard but we overrode this idea. After the observation room, we were able to go view the North Korean infiltration tunnel, and the military camps set up near the border. We were warned that there were still land mines in the area so when Jodi started to wander off to take pictures, we were very quick to grab her arm before she wandered too far! The tour took the morning and we were back in Seoul for lunch time. It was definitely an eye opening experience, and a good insight into the history and current situation between the two countries.
Negotiation table between North and South Korea