Today we visited the Demilitarized Zone of North and South Korea. Many of you may know that this area of the world is the most heavily militarized border on the planet. With the tensions between the North and South very much alive, saying that the excursion was a fun day trip makes me slightly uncomfortable. The DMZ is a strange place because on the South side, the government has developed the area into a tourist attraction, which in my opinion is mind-boggling. This space is literally under constant threat and highly highly fragile and watching people (including our group….) pose in front from the large DMZ sign and in front of the JSA (yeah we posed and took a picture as a group directly in front of North Korea soldiers….what?) and say “kiimchiiii” really made my stomach flip. It made the whole conflict and tension seem like something of the past with a surprise sucker punch to the vital organs every time you turn a corner. Needless to say, I am extremely grateful to have experienced such an intricate thread in our worlds modern history and I know I will never forget the experience. Here are some shots from the day. Thanks for looking.
The view from the main observation tower. This is the angle from which we were allowed to take photos. When looking through the binoculars, you can see across to North Korea and the city of Kijong-dong as well as one of their propaganda villages.
The designated view point at the JSA (Joint Security Area). If you look closely, there is a North Korean soldier taking photos of us on the steps of the large white building in the background. He is located just left of where Abraham Lincoln would be sitting on the back of an old penny. We weren’t fortunate enough to witness a staring contest, but our tour leader contests that they are anything but a game.
I was not allowed to photograph towards the South due to security reasons, so this is from the South side at the divide, but yes, I did step onto the North side of the border. It is a feeling that can never be completely described.