THE ASIAN SERIES PT16
It’s not possible to visit the Demilitarized Zone as a solo traveller so in order to visit, a tour or a guide has to be arranged through an agency.
THE DMZ IS THE MOST INFAMOUS BORDER ON EARTH
On the previous post I gave a summary of the Korean War which might be useful to read to get an understanding of why the DMZ has actually been created.
WHERE IS THE DMZ?
The DMZ is an area of land (250km x 4km) either side of the Korean border put in place as part of the Korean Armistice Agreement. It’s purpose is the maintain peace by creating a buffer between the two countries.
More recently it has been possible to visit the DMZ although not legally possible to cross over from one country to another. Since its inception in 1953 the DMZ zone has seen its fair share of causalities with incidents and people trying to defect.
It’s hard to describe how eerie it feels around the DMZ. If you are aware of the history you will know the significance of where you are standing and will understand the point of signing an injury and death wavier. The tour is very much worth it as you are guided around much of the JSA included freedom house, the front line as well as being able to visit the huts where the negotiating takes place.
It’s not somewhere I have felt incredibly relaxed and I wasn’t the only one. I got talking to a couple from the tour, Tom and Lauren from Northern Ireland no less. He takes a flag around with him on his travels but here he just didn’t feel comfortable getting the photo. Its funny what a bit of peer pressure can do!
The DMZ became another opportunity to showcase propaganda from either side with everything from loudspeaker installations and messages on balloons. North Korea went as far as building a town just outside the DMZ which was never populated and constructed the world’s largest flag!
Slowly each side agreed with the dismantling of observation posts as well as the military that was within them. Landmines have also been removed in recent years.
- Dozens escape North Korea every year
- Defections across the DMZ are extremely rare as it can be dangerous.
- In 2017 a North Korean soldier was shot at 40 times as he tried to make his way across
- The DMZ was established in 1953
- 4 tunnels have been found since the DMZ was founded
- Visitors are required to sign a wavier than notes possible death and/or injury
- South Korea built a 323-foot flagpole weighing about 287 pounds.
- Not long after North Korea built their own at 525 feet tall weighing 595 pounds.
- Loudspeakers were used from 1953 – 2004 until an agreement was reached
- Fake villages have been constructed with no glass, no rooms and the lights being turned on everyday to give the image of prosperity.
EGG & VODKA SHOT
Meeting up with Felix later to sample the nightlife of Seoul. We ended up going to a bar that had a wheel of fortune in it with the worst thing being a Russian Egg shot which is basically an egg and vodka shot. Clearly feeling invincible we decided to have and spin, what’s the worst that could happen!
Low and behold there it was, landed bang on. Myself and Felix thought we left both of our drinking days in Vietnam as that was enough to do us a lifetime but the Russian egg shot was only the start of it.
After having live squid and a Russian egg shot I’m starting to think that Felix fella is a bad influence!
The DMZ is an essential stop in Korea for anyone regardless of whether you are interested in history or not, you don’t need to be a history buff to appreciate the importance! Feel free to experience the nightlife of Seoul but give the Russian Egg shots a miss!
Off to Japan and visit Hiroshima, the site of the Nuclear disaster from World War 2, my type of thing! Click to read.
SAFE TRAVELS, DS x
- Would you like to visit the DMZ?
- Are there any other dangerous destinations you’ve been to?
- Can you recommend anything else to do in Seoul?
Let me know in the comments below . . .